Colorado gun control bills pass along party lines; local legislators vote mostly as expected

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“We tried very hard to get two more votes from their side, but we’re just really outnumbered. It’s just a sad fact for us Western Slope rural legislators — that we don’t have a larger voice.”

Colorado House District 57 Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, about Monday’s passage of four gun control bills in the Colorado House of Representatives

Yampa Valley gun enthusiasts may have a few new hoops to jump through after legislators in the Colorado House of Representatives passed four new gun control bills Monday.

It went down almost exactly as one local lawmaker predicted.

Last week, Colorado House District 57 Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, said the Democrats would pass all four of their proposed gun control bills if they voted as a unit.

The House encompasses 65 members, and a bill requires only a simple majority of 33 votes to pass. The Democrats control the House with a 37-28 majority, which meant the Republicans needed to sway five legislators from across the aisle to kill any or all of the gun control measures.

Despite their best efforts, Rankin’s party came up short.

“We tried very hard to get two more votes from their side, but we’re just really outnumbered,” Rankin said. “It’s just a sad fact for us Western Slope rural legislators — that we don’t have a larger voice. We won’t give up, but we’re going to have a tough year defending what’s good for the Western Slope.”

Among the bills passed Monday were measures limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds or less; banning concealed weapons on college campuses; requiring universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers; and making gun buyers pay the cost of their own background checks.

Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland, was the only House Democrat to vote against all four bills. Vigil was joined by Diane Mitsch-Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and two other Democrats in bucking the party line on House Bill 13-1228 concerning payments for background checks.

Mitsch-Bush, who voted in favor of the three other bills, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

District 8 state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, speculated Tuesday that the HB13-1228 vote was so close because it was the weakest and most insignificant gun control bill of the four.

Though the bill does not state what the Colorado Bureau of Investigation may recoup from customers for time spent running background checks, state lawmakers are estimating the fee will be about $10, Baumgardner said.

The next stop for the gun control bills is the Senate, where the Democrats enjoy a slightly slimmer 20-15 majority.

To kill any of the bills, Senate Republicans are going to have to convince three Democrats to join their ranks.

“We’re looking for people who can help us from across the aisle for these four bills, but right now we don’t know who they are,” Baumgardner said.

Although the House-passed gun control bills have not yet been delegated to Senate committees, Baumgardner said he’s been working with the Attorney General’s Office to draft potential amendments to the bills.

“But I don’t want people to have any misconceptions,” Baumgardner said. “Even if those amendments go on, I’m still going to be a ‘no’ vote on these pieces of legislation because they’re going to affect our lives and our children’s lives.

“It’s essentially the first step of disarming law-abiding citizens.”

Baumgardner expects the gun control bills to be scheduled for committee later this week or early next week.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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