Colorado Republicans will make repealing the state’s new gun control laws a priority when the state legislature convenes in early 2014, but Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a radio interview that scrapping the controversial measures isn’t an option.
He did say, however, that he would be open to considering modifications to the laws.
“If someone comes and has some way of improving or changing them, I’m not ruling anything out,” Hickenlooper said told Colorado Public Radio. “I think only a fool would say ‘I’m not going to change anything.’”
Debate over gun control dominated the last legislative session, which was controlled by Democratic majorities in both chambers.
At times, it reached near pandemonium, such as when Democrats scheduled debate on several bills at once, packing the capitol and leading to complaints that not everyone who wanted to testify on the bills had a chance to be heard, including dozens of Colorado sheriffs who showed up to oppose them. During testimony, opponents circled the building in their cars, blasting their horns in protest.
Among the laws that were passed, the most contentious require universal background checks and limit the size of ammunition magazines.
Going into 2014, Democrats hold a one-seat lead after gun rights advocates successfully recalled two state senators and forced another to resign rather than risk losing a recall election and tipping the balance of power to the GOP in the state senate. The laws also spurred a lawsuit against the state and led, in part, to several counties voting to secede from Colorado to form their own state.
Hickenlooper has said that the new laws couldn’t have prevented the recent school shooting at Arapahoe High School in which a student with a legally purchased shotgun wounded two students (one of whom remains in critical condition) before taking his own life.
But he also said he doesn’t believe “we’re going to repeal anything” related to guns that passed earlier this year.
He told Colorado Public Radio that school shootings are rare despite all the media attention they generate and that he doesn’t want schools to become like “fortified castles or military installations.”
“In real terms, looking at the number of schools and students across the country, people shouldn’t be fearful,” Hickenlooper said. “But at the same time, we shouldn’t accept that one shooting happens in a school.”
Although efforts to repeal the new laws stands little chance of getting out of committee in the next Democratic-dominated session, GOP gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Greg Brophy said in September that considering the measures “can be Democrats’ chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the citizens of Colorado.”
Gun control is certain to be a major issue in the 2014 elections.
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