DENVER (AP) – A gun-control package proposed by Colorado Democrats continued its march through the Legislature Wednesday.
One House committee approved a bill to make public college campuses off-limits for concealed weapons. Another committee revived fees for gun purchasers seeking background checks. Both bills passed on party-line 7-6 votes.
The campus gun bill was the longer debate, with college students for and against concealed weapons on campus testifying along with gun activists.
“When you gather your belongings to head off to your English class or your physics class … you should not be bringing your gun,” said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, whose district includes the main University of Colorado campus.
A separate House committee approved new fees for gun purchasers seeking background checks.
The gun bills were the latest in a package of Democratic gun-control measures under consideration this year. A House committee voted Tuesday to set ammunition limits and expand background checks for gun buyers.
The campus gun measure comes less than a year after Colorado’s highest court threw out campus concealed-carry bans. The court said campuses couldn’t override state concealed-carry law because campus gun bans weren’t approved by the Legislature. The court said lawmakers would be free to enact such a ban, which currently applies only to courthouses, K-12 public schools and places where federal law prohibits concealed weapons.
Republicans warned that banning guns on campuses would simply result in more litigation. A sheriff whose county includes the main Colorado State University campus warned students would be in danger if concealed weapons were banned.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said that banning campus concealed weapons is “simply asking for the honor system.”
Democrats ultimately sided with student like CU senior Tyler Quick, who supported the ban.
“This is about what is the best environment to learn in, and we believe that’s an environment without concealed weapons,” Quick said.
The gun-fee bill drew a smaller crowd but no less disagreement from Republicans and Democrats. The proposal would resume the practice of charging gun purchasers to perform required Instacheck background checks when they buy guns. Colorado charged $10 fees for those checks in the late 1990s, but the fees were dropped. A legislative fiscal analysis projected Colorado will spend $1.4 million this year on gun background checks.
Some Republicans accused Democrats of trying to bring back the fees to burden gun ownership and raise cash without seeking required voter approval.
“I don’t see this bill as anything other than a revenue-generator,” said Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland.
The Democrats’ gun package could move swiftly now that they’ve cleared their first committees. The four gun bills were scheduled for a possible full House debate as soon as Friday.
LINK: Campus Gun Bill
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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