The Colorado House of Representatives advanced a bill Tuesday allowing local governments to pass their own gun control laws.
Under the legislation, which declares that regulating firearms is a “state and local concern,” local governments would be allowed to pass their own laws and ordinances regarding the sale, purchase, and possession of firearms, provided that those regulations are not less restrictive than those of Colorado as a whole. Currently, this authority is limited to the state legislature alone.
“Colorado’s vast regional diversity means that the gun violence prevention solutions that come up in La Plata County are probably going to look a lot different to those in Denver,” said state Rep. Lindsey Daughtery (D-Arvada), one of the sponsors of the legislation. “This bill respects the rights of gun owners and follows in our longstanding tradition of local control to allow localities to implement the solutions that make sense for their individual communities.”
The bill, “Local Regulation of Firearms,” would also enable local governments, special districts, and governing boards of institutions of higher education to restrict or prohibit concealed carry in areas under their jurisdiction.
Some aren’t so sure that this is the right move.
“The tragedy of this particular bill is, it doesn’t actually get at what all of us would like to get at, and that is a safer society,” said state Sen. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) in a radio interview on KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky Show yesterday.
“This simply says a community may have more strict gun laws. Well, if a bad actor wants to get a gun and do a bad thing they’re going to go wherever they need to go… If they need to go to a different community in Colorado, or wherever, they’ll do that.”
The bill is advancing at the Capitol in the wake of the tragic March 22 shooting at a Boulder supermarket, in which 10 people were killed.
Fewer than two weeks before the shooting, Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman struck down Boulder’s 2018 assault weapons ban, citing the state law prohibiting local governments from enacting their own firearm regulations. This was the result of a lawsuit that had been largely funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In a press release celebrating the NRA’s victory, the organization’s Institution for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) wrote, “While the holding only applies to the Boulder ordinances, the principles behind the ruling will apply to other localities who are considering passing any similar counterproductive ordinances.”
While the NRA may see this as a triumph for its cause, in the aftermath of the March 22 shooting, many feel justified in calling for gun control reforms on a state and local level. People like state Hooton see bills like SB21-256 as crucial in allowing communities to determine how they protect themselves.
“We’ve been working to end mass shootings and stem the tide of gun violence in Colorado for years now, and the tragic shooting that reeled my Boulder community this year only made the need to act that much more pressing,” said state Rep. Edie Hooton (D-Boulder), another sponsor of the bill. “The critical bill we advanced today will give local governments the ability to raise gun safety standards in their communities to meet the needs of their residents.”
The legislation passed the Colorado Senate, where Democrats hold a majority, on May 18, with a vote of 19 to 14 in favor. State Democrats also hold a majority in the state House, with 42 Democrats to 24 Republicans. At the time of writing, no results from the House floor have been announced.
Correction: The Boulder shooter bought his gun in Arvada, not Boulder as originally reported.