More gun bills reach governor

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Two more gun bills await Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature, following another week of polarized debate on firearm-related legislation in the General Assembly.

A bill that would put in place universal background checks on gun sales and transfers has now cleared the General Assembly, after getting one last round of debate in both the House and Senate on March 15.

House Bill 1229 had previously passed both chambers, but lawmakers had to take up the bill again to deal with some minor amendments.

Earlier in the week, on March 13, the House also passed House Bill 1224, which limits high-capacity ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. That bill had already passed the House last month, but lawmakers in the lower chamber had to vote on the legislation again in order to deal with amendments from the Senate.

As was the case with earlier votes on these bills, debate was lengthy and at times emotional. Democrats continued to make the argument that background checks and magazine limits must be put in place to prevent more criminals from terrorizing a state that is no stranger to mass shootings.

And Republicans argued at length that the bills would do nothing to further community safety and would only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

The same Democratic lawmakers who voted against the bills did so again last week. Sen. Lois Tochtrop of Thornton, along with Reps. Ed Vigil of Fort Garland, Steve Lebsock of Thornton and Leroy Garcia of Pueblo all voted against putting in place magazine limits. Tochtrop and Vigil also voted against the background checks bill.

All Republicans voted against both measures.

House Bills 1224 and 1229 join the previously passed House Bill 1228 — which requires that gun buyers pay for their own background checks — as three major pieces of Democratic-sponsored gun-control legislation that have now reached Hickenlooper's desk.

The governor is expected to sign all three bills into law.

Two other gun-control bills continue to work their way through the legislature: Senate Bill 195, which bans exclusive online training for those seeking concealed handgun permits; and Senate Bill 197, which would prohibit domestic-violence offenders from having access to guns.