Colorado governor joins calls for stricter gun laws

Greg Campbell | Contributor

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper added his voice to the growing chorus of governors calling for stricter gun control, during his annual State of the State address in Denver Thursday.

After observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Aurora theater shootings on July 20, Hickenlooper called for universal background checks on all gun purchases, whether from a gun store or through a private transaction.

“We shouldn’t be restrained from discussing any of these issues,” he said. “Our democracy demands this type of debate. Let me prime the pump: Why not have universal background checks for all gun sales?”

Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields has proposed such a bill, requiring private gun sellers to run background checks on all buyers through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. If they fail to do so, and the weapon is later used in a crime, the seller can be charged with a crime. Background checks will cost no more than $15, she said.

Hickenlooper evoked the 1999 Columbine High School shooting as evidence that lawmakers can act when a tragedy requires them to do so. After that shooting, Colorado closed the so-called “gun show loophole” which allowed purchases at gun shows without background checks.

“We have shown in Colorado that we can learn from tragedy and make changes,” he said. “Surely, Second Amendment advocates and gun control supporters can find common ground in support of this proposition: Let’s examine our laws and make the changes needed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

With a Democratic majority in both houses, Colorado is likely to pass some form of gun control legislation in the next six months.

Hickenlooper’s comments, given before the state legislature, echoed statements by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy who both called for stronger gun laws in recent days.

Vice President Joe Biden recently met with stakeholders on the gun issue ahead of recommending to President Obama a course of action to curb gun violence.

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