DENVER (AP) — Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bills Wednesday that place new restrictions on firearms and signaled a change for Democrats who traditionally shied away from gun control debate in Colorado – a state with a moderate streak and pioneer tradition of gun ownership and self-reliance.
Hickenlooper’s signature of the bills comes exactly eight months after dozens of people were shot in an Aurora movie theater and on the same day as the executive director of the state’s Corrections Department was shot and killed at his home.
Police were searching for the person who killed Tom Clements, and trying to figure out if the attack was related to his job.
The bills require background checks for private and online gun sales and ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. Jane Dougherty, whose sister was killed in a deadly attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., was present for the bill signing.
Lawmakers and guests applauded as Hickenlooper signed the bills. The governor looked solemn.
The bills thrust Colorado into the national spotlight as a potential test of how far the country might be willing to go on new restrictions after the horror of mass shootings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and Aurora movie theater.
“I am happy the governor is signing common-sense legislation that reduces gun violence in our communities by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic violence offenders and the seriously mentally ill,” said Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, who represents the district where an assailant opened fire July 20 during a midnight showing of “Dark Knight Rises.”