State Senate committees advance seven gun control bills on party-line votes

Democratic senators pass bills over GOP objections

DENVER - State Senate committees advanced seven gun control bills Monday on party-line votes.

House Bill 1228 would state that gun purchasers would have to pay a fee, likely $10, to cover the cost of a required background check on gun purchases. The Democratic bill passed a Senate committee on a party-line 3-2 vote Monday. One more committee vote is required before the gun fee bill heads to the full Senate.

The background check fee has already cleared the Democratic House. Supporters say the fees need to be revived to address a state background check backlog. They point out that many states charge similar fees.

Republicans have derided the fees as an unconstitutional infringement on the right to bear arms.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday voted 3-2 along party lines to advance the Democratic proposal to expand restrictions on gun ownership for people convicted of a domestic violence offense.

Several victims testified in favor of the bill, including, Aaron Francios, whose mother was killed by her estranged boyfriend.

"The courts were made aware of his threats and that he had a gun," said Francios. "Yet, nothing was done to take it away from him. And because of this, my mother was killed."

Senate Bill 197 imposes new restrictions on gun ownership for people who have restraining orders and who have been convicted of a domestic violence offense.

Republican Sen. Steve King says the bill should allow for more judicial discretion.

The bill still faces one more committee vote and a vote before the full Senate.

The Senate State, Veteran and Military Affairs committee also voted 3-2 along party lines in favor of House Bill 1229 that would require universal background checks on all gun sales.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' husband testified in favor of the background checks. Giffords was shot in the head in Jan. 2011 by a gunman at a public event.

"Gabby's gift for speech is a distant memory. She struggles to walk, and she's partially blind," Mark Kelly, Gabby's husband.

On the other side of the issue, Krista Ceresa urged members of the committee to vote against a proposed ban on concealed-carry on-campus.

Ceresa's mother, Ginny May, was kidnapped, raped and killed by Gary Davis. Davis was later sentenced to death and is currently the last man executed in the state of Colorado.

"I saw Gary Davis physically force my mom from our front yard," said Ceresa. "As I was held restrained by his wife on the front steps of our country home."

That bill has already passed the house and will next move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile the sound of gun owners honking car horns could be heard outside and even inside some of the rooms in the capitol. Overhead, a plane trailed a banner with the message "Hick: Don't take our guns."

House Bill 1224, which would limit gun ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 party line vote. The Democratic-sponsored bill has already cleared the House.

Senate Bill 196, which would hold sellers and owners of assault weapons liable for damages in Colorado shootings, got initial approval in the state Senate.

Democratic senators pass the bill on a 3-2 committee vote over Republicans' objections on Monday.

The bill would set different liability standards for manufacturer, sellers, and owners of assault weapons, with owners having the strictest standard. It would be up to juries to decide individual cases.

 A federal law protects gun makers and sellers from liability for crimes committed with their products. But Democratic Senate President John Morse says he crafted his bill to avoid that conflict.

 Constitutional law professor David Koppel slammed the bill and says it's poorly drafted.

 The bill still needs a full Senate vote. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has not said if he'll sign it.

 After hours of emotional debate, a Senate committee passed House Bill 1226, which would end Colorado's unusual law barring public college campuses from banning concealed weapons.

Democratic Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo choked back tears as she cast the deciding vote on a 3-2 tally sending the bill to the full Senate. The bill says that concealed weapons would not be allowed on public college campuses. The Democratic-sponsored bill has already cleared the House.

Several victims of college rape, and two survivors of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, testified against the measure. They said that students are vulnerable in areas where law-abiding citizens can't carry concealed weapons.

Colorado residents who want a concealed carry permit would not be able to take any of their classes online, under Senate Bill 195, which also received initial approval from a Senate panel.

The proposal clarifies that firearm training classes to get a concealed carry permit must all be taken in person. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee on a 3-2 party-line vote on Monday, with Republicans opposing it.

Opponents of the bill say it places another burden on people who want permits. Supporters say one-hour online courses aren't sufficient to merit the right to carry concealed weapons. The bill still needs approval from the full Senate.