DENVER (AP) — Guns are a part of Colorado’s heritage, but the state should also lead efforts to curb gun violence, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Tuesday as he moderated a panel of Democrats and Republicans talking about the issue.
“We are in a different place in the West. Our heritage with guns is rich,” said Hickenlooper, a Democrat. More than a third of Coloradans own at least one firearm, he said.
“At the same time, two of the worst shootings in history have taken place in Colorado,” the governor said, referring to the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School and last summer’s Aurora theater shooting.
Hickenlooper has called for expanded background checks, a measure that has cleared the state House and awaits a vote in the Senate.
Panelists included Colorado Senate President John Morse and state Rep. Rhonda Fields, who sponsored expanded background checks and a bill to limit the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds.
Morser and Fields clashed with Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and Republican Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck.
Lamborn argued that gun bans violate the 2nd Amendment and that mass shootings can’t be prevented by limiting guns.
Citing recent mass shootings, Lamborn argued, “if some of these laws were in effect, it would’ve made no difference, unfortunately.”
Battling a cough, the governor weighed in infrequently Tuesday. He did spar with Buck, who argued that criminals wouldn’t be screened by expanded background checks.
“It doesn’t catch all the crooks, but it catches the dumb ones,” Hickenlooper argued.
The governor didn’t indicate what he thinks of another gun control measure passed by the House this week — a ban on concealed weapons on public college campuses. The campus gun bill has proven one of the most divisive measures in the Democrats’ gun package, and Hickenlooper said last week he hasn’t decided whether he’d sign it into law.
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