DENVER (AP) – Colorado businesses that ban guns would be required to provide armed security under a measure proposed by Colorado Republicans on Wednesday.
The GOP-sponsored plan ran counter to measures proposed on the same day by President Barack Obama who put forward gun control measures in response to recent mass shootings. Obama suggested a national assault weapons ban, limits on ammunition and expanded background checks for private gun sales.
The Republican gun proposal introduced in Colorado would require businesses to provide an armed security guard for every 50 patrons if the patrons are prohibited from carrying guns.
The sponsor, Republican Sen. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs, says movie theaters and shopping malls that ban concealed weapons should be obligated to provide their own armed security.
“A lot of the places that have mass shootings, acts of violence, are so-called gun free zones,” said Lambert, citing the Aurora movie theater where last July a gunman killed 12 and wounded dozens more unarmed moviegoers.
“If a venue decides not to allow people to carry, that’s within their rights. But then I think they should pick up the responsibility of protecting their customers,” said Lambert, one of 11 Senate Republicans and seven House Republicans to sponsor the measure.
The business gun bill faces dim prospects in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Soon after Lambert’s bill was introduced, Democratic Senate President John Morse dismissed the idea.
“In essence what he’s saying is, we ought to add more guns to businesses. And as far as I’m concerned, more guns equals more shootings. And I’m for fewer shootings,” Morse said.
Morse added, “Banks have had armed guards for 100 years and still get robbed on a regular basis.”
The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry didn’t have an immediate response Wednesday to Lambert’s business gun proposal.
Lambert’s business security proposal was the latest gun measure from Colorado Republicans. Other senators have proposed a plan allowing school boards to authorize employees to carry concealed weapons. The armed-teacher proposal awaits its first hearing later this month.
In Washington on Wednesday, Obama proposed a federal assault weapons ban, ammunition limits and other gun controls. The president specifically cited the Aurora theater shootings in his call for ammunition limits.
Obama also called for improvements in school safety, including putting 1,000 police officers in schools and bolstering mental health care by training more health professionals to deal with young people who may be at risk. His proposal was announced about a month after the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Despite possible federal gun control actions, Morse said that ruling Democrats in Colorado are still planning state-specific gun bills, including an assault weapons ban.
“I’m not waiting for Washington at all,” he said.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)