DENVER - Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three gun control measures into law on Wednesday.
Hickenlooper signed the bills restricting the size of gun magazines, expanding background checks for firearms buyers and adding a fee for background checks for gun transfers. The bills become effective July 1.
"What we have signed today are several bills that materially make our state safer in the long run and allow us to begin to address some of these issues head on," said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper admitted that the most contentious bill was the proposal dealing with high capacity magazines.
"These high capacity magazines have the potential to turn killers into killing machines," Hickenlooper said. "Even if they are slowed for just a number of seconds, that allows others to escape."
"This bill does not confiscate any firearms," the governor explained. "It does ban the future sale of firearms and magazines that can be readily convertible to accept more than 15 handgun bullets or 28 inches of shotgun shells.
Hickenlooper said high capacity magazines are used in roughly 30 to 40 percent of the police officers killed in the line of duty and in half of the mass killings over the last 130 years.
The governor believes background checks also have great benefit.
"People say to me, criminals aren't stupid they're not going to sign up for background check," Hickenlooper said. "No one told the criminals that."
Hickenlooper said 5,000 gun sales were stopped by background checks last year. Of those, 2,000 people with a violent history were stopped from buying a weapon.
"236 individuals, when they showed up to pick up their newly purchased gun, we arrested them, because there were outstanding arrest warrants for them," said Hickenlooper.
"Today is a great day as we sign important measures to improve the public safety of Colorado," said one of the bill's sponsor Rhonda Fields. "There was a need to do something."
Fields son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiance, Vivian Wolfe, both 22, died in a hail of gunfire as they drove through an Aurora intersection on June 20, 2005.
"While we can not prevent every act of violence, we must do what we can to reduce the frequency and the impact of these horrible events," Fields said.
Gun enthusiasts predict the laws will cost Democrats votes next election.
Dudley Brown, with the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said the measures signed are "radical" and "not main stream."
"This is signaling that the Democratic Party does not want gun owners in their party, and that they want to lose the majority," said Brown. "And we're going to make sure they do."
Tony Fabian, president of the Colorado State Shooting Association, which is the local chapter of the National Rifle Association, said the magazine limits will cost Colorado jobs and tourist money.
“Hunters will avoid coming here,” Fabian said. “Weapons accessories manufacturers have already threatened to leave.”
Sen. Greg Brophy, (R) Wray, said the bills "result in a bunch of absurdities."
"For instance, I can't loan a hunting rifle to a neighbor I've known for 30 years so he can take it on a week-long hunting trip without getting a background check on him," said Brophy.
Read the bills:
HB 1229: http://tinyurl.com/ColoHB1229
HB 1228: http://tinyurl.com/ColoHB1228
HB 1224: http://tinyurl.com/ColoHB1224