President Barack Obama’s plan to strengthen controls on guns in the United States is not likely to move the needle on Colorado’s gun laws, according to state experts and lawmakers.
David Kopel, an attorney with the Independence Institute who is also a Second Amendment legal expert, said the president didn’t do anything new with his 10-point plan, which says licensed dealers must run background checks on prospective buyers. The president also aims to narrow a loophole for firearms sold at gun shows, flea markets and online by subjecting buyers to background checks.
“There’s never been a gun show exception,” Kopel said. “He was clever in getting so many people to pay attention to what was zero change from the existing law. He got a lot of people to confuse his talk with genuine action.”
Kopel described his view of Colorado’s gun laws as already the most extreme and cumbersome gun laws in country. The state already mandates universal background checks for gun transfers, including private sales, and requires that the background checks are conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer, with the price of the transaction fee limited to $10.
One of the state’s most controversial gun control measures bans magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and is often criticized by the state’s Republican lawmakers.
State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, who sponsored legislation last year to repeal the ammunition limit, said she will again introduce a bill for its repeal after the measure failed in 2015.
“Considering that you can buy the same equipment in pieces and assemble a 30-round magazine in seconds, how does that help public safety?” she asked.
Democratic state lawmakers narrowly passed stricter gun control measures in 2013 following the Aurora theater shooting and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
Various Democratic leaders in the statehouse said they have no plans to focus on gun regulation or the repeal of it this year, while party-line divisions between the state Senate and House have kept Republican lawmakers from repealing the measures passed three years ago.
“The Democrats have moved on as it relates to the legislation we passed,” said Aurora state Rep. Rhonda Fields, who attended a round-table discussion on gun control at the White House earlier in January. “There’s no reason for us to look back. Our focus is on the economy, affordable housing, making college more affordable. It’s not on our agenda to talk about guns. It’s a national debate at this point. Nothing the president did violated anyone’s Second Amendment rights. People still have a right to bear arms.”
The longtime Aurora Democrat has been a regular force for public safety and gun control. Her son, Javad Marshall Fields, along with his fiancée, was gunned down almost 10 years ago, the day before he was set to testify as a witness to a murder.
— The Associated Press
contributed to this story.