Just days after Colorado Democrats introduced a far-reaching slate of gun control proposals, National Rifle Association president David Keene met separately behind closed doors Thursday with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Senate Majority Leader Sen. John Morse.
“We appreciate David Keene’s willingness to come out to see firsthand what we’re considering and talking about in Colorado,” said Hickenlooper in a brief prepared statement after his meeting. “While we might not agree on a number of things, there will certainly be places we can find common ground.”
One of those places may be stronger background checks, which Keene has said the NRA generally supports.
But in an interview with the Denver Post prior to Thursday’s meeting, Keene said Colorado first has to fix its current background check system. By law, the checks should take no longer than three business days, but the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has been backlogged with requests ever since the gun-control debate began anew in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings.
Background checks are now taking an average of seven days.
On Tuesday, Democrats — who control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion — unveiled their package of proposed laws. Among them are bans on high-capacity magazines, universal background checks for every gun purchase and measures to better identify would-be purchasers with mental health issues.
But Morse introduced what looks to be the most controversial idea, one that would hold gun manufacturers liable for any damage caused by their weapons. It excludes handguns, bolt-action rifles and shotguns, meaning that it’s aimed squarely at semiautomatic assault-style weapons.
Keene told the Post that the proposal is “foolish.”
“You can’t sue them because someone bought a legal product and then did something wrong with it,” he’s quoted as saying.
But Keene didn’t bring up the issue when he met with Morse, who described the encounter as “delightful.”
“The chairs stayed firmly planted on all four legs at all times,” Morse joked, adding that Keene spent much of the approximately 45 minute meeting talking about screening potential gun buyers for mental health issues and the problems he perceived with the federal InstaCheck background check system.
“The only point that I really made is that I am frustrated that so far all that we’ve heard from the NRA, and to some extent even in the wider debate, are the same solutions over and over, all of which we’ve already debunked and don’t work,” he said. “We’re not coming up with any new ideas, so I’d rather we all try to stretch ourselves and come up with new ideas.”
He said developing a relationship with Keene was “productive,” adding that their discussion of this issue will likely continue.
“I would be surprised if this conversation is the last that we will have,” he said.
Keene did not reply to a request for comment.
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