DENVER — After another eight hours of debate, the Colorado Senate passed five Democratic gun control bills Monday.
The fifth and final vote came after four hours of discussion of House Bill 1224, a ban on high-capacity magazines of 15 rounds or more, which passed on a vote of 18-17.
Two Democrats, Sen. Lois Tochtrop of Thornton and Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, joined Republicans in voting no.
Republicans argued at length against the two most important measures: House Bill 1229, which mandates universal background checks on all gun sales, and the high-capacity magazine ban, both of which have the backing of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the advocacy group founded and funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“The de facto governor of Colorado is Michael Bloomberg,” said an angry Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, expressing a frustration widely held among Colorado Republicans that the state’s Democrats are being controlled by outside political forces.
Earlier in the day, the universal background checks bill passed the Senate 19-16, after about two hours of debate, with Tochtrop the only Democrat voting no.
“This bill will do absolutely nothing to improve the safety of the citizens of Colorado,” said Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray.
Republicans, who spent five hours arguing against the magazine ban on the floor last Friday, reiterated their objections; and Brophy offered a new one: that the ban will ban “the most popular gun sold in the United States”, the glock pistol, because the gun’s magazine is readily adaptable to hold more rounds.
“You can still buy the pistol in the state, but it becomes a paperweight,” Brophy said. “Because it takes a magazine to feed it.”
Brophy and Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, both stated emphatically that they will refuse to follow the tenets of the law, once it take effect.
“House Bill 1224 is an abomination to our freedoms,” said Marble.
Democrats let Republicans do most of the talking throughout the 20-plus hours of Senate debate on these bills. That didn’t change Monday, but Democrats did send their best orator, Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, to the well to defend the magazine ban.
“Any society that holds more than one value, holds no value absolutely,” Johnston said, arguing that the Second Amendment, like all Constitutional rights, has its limits.
Johnston also spoke emotionally about the Newtown, Conn school shooting, noting that the only victims who were spared were those who escaped as the gunman finally reloaded.
“Every single bullet mattered. Because he put the gun to the head of a 5-year-old, one after the other, and made sure he never missed,” Johnston said.
“In that 11 seconds when he reloaded, 11 kids got away. What if that were a 15-round mag. We could have picked 11 of those little five foot coffins and chosen not to fill them.”
Later, an angry Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Adams County, excoriated his Republican colleagues for not taking a stand against the threats that have been made against him, his family and other lawmakers.
“This has not been a civil debate,” Ulibarri said. “I’ve had someone tell me that they’re a law-abiding citizen and then tell me that they hope my two-year-old gets raped. I’ve had someone email me to say they bought a gun to keep Mexicans like me out of Colorado.
“This has not been a civil discourse.”
Three bills pass Senate with less opposition
H.B. 1229 was the third bill to officially pass.
Republicans spent little time arguing against Senate Bill 197, which restricts domestic violence offenders and those facing protection orders from possessing firearms.
The bill, which is important to Democrats’ future political messaging on the subject of gun control, passed on a 20-15 party-line vote Monday morning.
Moments later, Senate Bill 195, which closes the loophole that allows people to get concealed weapons permits by taking classes online, passed on a 22-13 bipartisna vote with two Republicans joining Democrats voting yes.
After a break for lunch, lawmakers returned and approved House Bill 1228, which imposes a small fee to cover the cost of gun background checks. The vote was 19-16 with only Democratic Sen. Andy Kerr of Lakewood joining Republicans voting no.
That bill is the only one of the five that is now heading to Gov. Hickenlooper’s desk.
The other four bills head over to the House: the two Senate bills that have yet to be heard by the House; and the two House bills, already approved by the House but amended in the Senate, must be re-approved by lawmakers there.