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Colorado Congress Members Sponsor Bills Tightening Gun Laws

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – The shooting in Connecticut has put gun control in the spotlight, and now President Barack Obama is launching a new effort aimed at curbing gun violence as two Colorado Congress members sponsor bills to tighten gun laws.

With a sense of urgency, Obama promised action on gun control, not in months, but weeks.

“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said.

Obama said Vice President Joe Biden will lead a team charged with developing concrete proposals by January.

“This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now,” Obama said.

Lawmakers aren’t waiting as well. Colorado U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is sponsoring a bill that would ban so-called assault style weapons.

“You know the old saying, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people?’ Well crazy people with guns kill people,” Perlmutter said.

Perlmutter has yet to identify exactly which guns he would ban, and that’s where things get tricky, because there is no consistent definition of an assault weapon.

Fully-automatic weapons — those that fire continuously when the trigger is held down — are already tightly regulated. But some want a ban on semi-automatic weapons. They reload automatically but fire once when the trigger is pulled. The vast majority of guns sold today are semi-automatic, including the AR-15, which was used in both the Connecticut and Aurora theater shootings. They are also used by police, hunters and target shooters. It’s the most popular selling gun on the market.

So, where is the line drawn? The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which expired, applied to firearms with a military “appearance,” like a bayonet mount. But it didn’t apply to powerful semi-automatics like the Remington 750, for example, used to kill moose.

Defining which guns are the “problem” guns isn’t easy.

Instead of a gun ban, Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette is behind a bill that would ban magazines with more than 10 bullets. She admitted Congress can’t stop all mass shootings.

“But we can give those victims a fighting chance when that assaulter stops to reload to take them down,” DeGette said.

CBS4 asked Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet where they stand on new gun restrictions. Udall said he is committed to keeping all options on the table, including Perlmutter’s and DeGette’s. Bennet said the status quo isn’t working and everything is part of the discussion.

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