Effort To Pursue ‘Assault-Model’ Weapons Ban Lacks Key Allies At The Colorado Capitol

Any major push to get Colorado banned offensive weapons is becoming increasingly unlikely. Legislator’s best-known proponent of stricter gun laws says now is not the time.

“It distracts all the attention,” said Centennial Democratic MP Tom Sullivan.

Instead, Sullivan wants to focus on measures that he believes will be more effective in preventing gun violence. Technology, he said, can bypass bans on certain types of weapons.

“They work around it, with printers at home, or order piece by piece that doesn’t have a serial number on it. And they make what could be viewed as a weapon of attack. “

Sullivan got involved in politics after his son Alex was killed while filming at the Aurora Theater in 2012. He’s sponsored several gun bills, including Colorado’s red flag law of 2019 and one this year That would require people to report lost and stolen firearms. However, he fears that it will be more difficult to pass other reforms if members of his party introduce a law banning offensive weapons.

“I’ve had this conversation since the day Alex was murdered,” Sullivan said of the debate over which policies to push for. “It’s a slow process again, like all major legislative changes that affect our country, from voter and women’s rights to LGBTQ rights to civil rights and racial equality. They all take a lot of time. And I think we are on the right track. ”

For a ban to take effect, Sullivan believes that it must be done at the federal level.

“I mean, if we were to ban something here, it would be very easy to go to one of the surrounding states.”

Some democratic lawmakers began to discuss the possibility of pushing for a ban after 10 people were killed in a King Soopers on March 22nd in Boulder. The accused shooter reportedly used a Ruger AR-556 pistol, with a clamp that makes it work more like a gun.

Democratic Governor Jared Polis told CPR’s Colorado Matters that he was not focusing on the type of firearm used in the massacre. Instead, Polis said he wants Colorado to step up universal background checks.

“What stands out in this case is – how could this young man who was violent in the past legally buy a gun?” asked Polis. “I think he had two guns, right? I’m not concerned about the model of the gun at this point. Why was he able to buy a gun when he was recently convicted of an act of violence? ”

The accused shooter Ahmad Alissa, was arrested for a misdemeanor in 2017, pleaded guilty and spent a year on probation. This criminal history was insufficient to prohibit him from legally buying a gun under current Colorado law.

Polis said he wants lawmakers to talk about what “would have the greatest impact on people’s safety”.

“Let’s look at the classification of acts of violence that prohibits you from buying a gun, at least for a period of time, maybe a decade, maybe five years.”

Colorado passed general background exams in 2013 following the Aurora shootings and Sandy Hook Elementary School. That year, the state also passed a high-capacity magazine ban. More recently, Polis signed what is known as the Red Flag Gun Act, which allows the courts to temporarily remove firearms from anyone deemed a danger to themselves or others. Polis said the law could be even more effective.

“(It) could have been used in this case. The family didn’t know about it, ”said Polis. “We need a better range. It was mainly used by law enforcement agencies. We want to make sure families know about this – when parents see their child with a gun and are concerned about their state of mind and show signs of risk, an extreme risk protection arrangement can be a great tool. ”

Even without Sullivan’s discouragement, it would be a major task for the state Democrats to promote a ban on offensive weapons.

At least two other State Democrats are likely to vote against such a bill. One of them is Senate President Leroy Garcia, who was among the few democratic lawmakers who spoke out against the red flag law. He argued that politics did not respect the “rights of responsible gun owners”.

During a town hall shortly after the Boulder shooting, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, whose district includes the King Soopers, where the mass shooting took place, hinted at how difficult it would be to get a ban passed, even if the Democrats were for the state government are responsible.

“The Boulder County delegation, probably the vast majority of the Denver delegation, supports the most absolute and aggressive policies that can be developed regarding the prevention of gun violence,” said Fenberg. “Of course we need more than just ourselves to make it.”