State House Passes Ban on Semiautomatic Firearms

( – On April 20, Colorado residents will observe the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School mass shooting. Twelve students and one teacher were killed in the 1999 tragedy. It remained the deadliest high school mass shooting until the Parkland, Florida massacre in 2018. Days before the somber anniversary, the state House passed a gun control measure.

On April 14, state lawmakers passed a ban on so-called assault weapons in the House. “Assault weapons” are defined as high-powered, semi-automatic pistols and rifles that have detachable magazines or those with fixed, large-capacity magazines.

House Bill 1292 passed with a vote of 35 to 27. All of the lawmakers who voted for the legislation were Democrats. Nine Democrats deflected and voted with Republicans to try to kill the bill. The legislation prohibits the sale of the high-powered weapons, but not possession. Individuals who violate the law would have to pay a $750 fine.

In addition to the assault weapons ban, Democrats are trying to pass House Bill 1353, which would require firearms dealers to get a state license. Currently, gun shop owners only need a federal dealer license to sell in the state. If that passes and a gun shop sells one of the guns defined under House Bill 1292, it would lose its state license.

Rep. Jennifer Bacon (D) spoke to the Denver Post about the bill and rejected arguments from Republicans that more guns mean more crime prevention. The Democrat is a teacher who has said some of her students were in the movie theater in Aurora, watching “The Dark Knight,” when a gunman entered in 2012 and killed 12 people. She said that carrying a weapon to shoot someone else who has a gun “is not prevention,” it’s “reaction.”

Republicans argue the bill is a violation of the Second Amendment. However, the legislation is modeled after an Illinois bill recently upheld by a federal court. The US Supreme Court left the Illinois purchase and sale ban in place while it’s being appealed.

The Colorado bill is now headed to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

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