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Colorado Democrats introduce multiple gun restriction bills

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Colorado Democrats announced the filing of four firearm bills Thursday and Republicans vowed to oppose the measures.

The Democratic lawmakers say the bills will strengthen Colorado’s “red flag law,” raise the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, institute a three-day waiting period, and remove legal protections for firearm sellers and manufacturers.

“These are incredibly important bills that will save lives,” Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said during a press conference on Thursday. “We worked for months on practical language and with stakeholders, advocates and gun violence survivors to make sure these policies will be effective and, most importantly, enforced.”

House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, said Coloradans want legislators to focus on inflation, education, and crime, not increasing government intrusion.

“Up until this moment, Coloradans have been free to exercise their constitutional rights to legally purchase and bear arms,” Lynch said in a statement. “We Republicans are the only ones that are standing between these ongoing legislative assaults on Coloradans abilities to protect themselves, their families, and their homes. The radical members of the Democrat caucus have taken advantage of their super majority to push through an anti-constitution, anti-freedom, and anti-Colorado agenda.”

Sen. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, told an emotional and personal story on his “Extreme Risk Protection Order” bill. Sullivan said his son, Alex, and 11 others were murdered and 70 others injured during the Aurora theater mass shooting in 2012.

“I believe if this 2023 version had been in effect prior to the tragedy of July 20, 2012, we could have had a chance to change that horrific night,” Sullivan said.

Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, also shared a personal story of being able to stop her son from purchasing a firearm after he threatened to commit suicide.

“I believe this three-day waiting period is going to have a huge impact on families,” Amabile said. “And it isn't going save everybody, but it is going to save people who are in my son's situation. And there's a lot of them who have a moment when they think, ‘I can't handle this anymore.’ And they go and get a gun and then they're dead and then there is no coming back from that.”

House Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, who's a former educator, spoke of losing students to gun violence.

“It's always been important to be talking about the depth of this issue, not only from mass shootings but the shootings we see every day in neighborhoods,” Bacon said. “My community does lose a lot of young people to gun violence. I want to say their lives matter. But more importantly, we're bringing a suite of bills to think comprehensively on how we can mitigate this violence.”

Lynch agreed gun violence is a concern and reminded legislators about constitutional issues.

“We must care about addressing the issue of gun crimes while also recognizing the utmost importance of protecting and honoring the liberties outlined in our founding documents,” Lynch said. “Both Democrats and Republicans have taken an oath to uphold the state and federal constitutions. We must find solutions to these critical issues without betraying our oaths.”