Democrats in Denver may be taking a pass on the bill banning so-called assault weapons that was quietly introduced by Sen. Rhonda Shields and Rep. Elisabeth Epps on a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago. HB 1230 had been scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week, but it was removed from the committee’s calendar. On Thursday, a Democratic strategist told KDVR that the bill was being pulled from consideration after it failed to find support from the Democratic majority.
“Through sources, I’ve been told it just wasn’t going to pass. It didn’t have the support that we thought,” FOX31 political analyst and Democratic strategist Andy Boian said on “Colorado Point of View.”
“The end result was that it wasn’t going to pass, it wasn’t going to be effective, and so Democrats did go ahead and pull the bill,” Boian said.
However, a spokesperson with the Colorado House Democrats later said the hearing for the bill was postponed Wednesday because the committee’s agenda for that day was full.
Yeah, but it was already on the agenda. Why pull the gun ban bill and not one of other pieces of legislation that was under consideration? Denver Post reporter Seth Klamann says that was the choice of HB 1230 sponsor Elisabeth Epps.
Definitely faces a tough road in committee, per various folks, and definitely is controversial even within the Dem caucus. But it’s not been pulled in any permanent sense, per several people I just talked to.
— Seth Klamann (@SethKlamann) March 31, 2023
Something tells that if the votes were there on the committee to pass the gun ban bill committee chair Rep. Mike Weissman would have made sure that HB 1230 had its hearing this week, even if Democrats wanted that committee to focus on abortion legislation. Less than two weeks ago Weismann sounded supportive of the bill when speaking to reporters, so it certainly wasn’t any personal opposition to a ban on his part that led to the bill being yanked from the committee’s agenda this week.
While Weissman acknowledged that “there’s no one bill that is going to do everything at once to keep innocent people from getting killed,” he said the types of weapons that would fall under the proposed assault weapons ban are specifically engineered to injure and kill people.
“We do see these weapons used, unfortunately, in a lot of mass shootings,” he said. “Just about any firearm can be lethal; the lethality of these kinds of weapons is quite high, though.”
Weissman had his talking points down, but it sounds like he and others have struggled to convince other Democrats that banning the most commonly-sold rifles in the country is a good idea; either politically or from a public safety perspective. Unfortunately, the apparent lack of support for a gun ban doesn’t mean that gun owners can breathe easy for the rest of the session. Democrats are expected to approve several other anti-gun bills, including a measure that would repeal the state’s prohibition on lawsuits that seek to blame the firearms industry for the actions of criminals, expansions to the state’s “red flag” law, and a bill that would raise the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.
None of those bills would be good news for gun owners, but it’s still somewhat surprising (and encouraging) that the “assault weapons ban” isn’t making much headway with Democrats this session, and Colorado isn’t the only state where we’ve seen this phenomenon this year either. Despite New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s repeated calls for a gun ban, which included threats to bring lawmakers back for a special session if they didn’t deliver a bill to her desk before the close of this year’s regular session, the only piece of gun control approved by the Democratic majority was a firearms storage measure.
Until HB 1230 is officially defeated Colorado gun owners should continue to keep up the pressure on their representatives and senators. Some of them may have seen the light on this issue, and it sounds like others are at least feeling the heat from their constituents, but as long as the bill can still be brought forward it remains a threat to the Second Amendment rights of Coloradans. As encouraging as these latest developments are, it’s still premature to celebrate HB 1230’s defeat.