GOP fails to shoot down gun laws

DENVER – The first Republican attempt to repeal last year’s gun laws failed Monday.

The hearing was carefully scripted on both sides, and the outcome was never in doubt.

Sen. George Rivera, R-Pueblo, sponsored the bill to repeal two laws passed in 2013, requiring background checks for private gun sales and for buyers to pay for their own background checks.

Rivera ousted Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, in the state’s first-ever recall of a legislator, after Giron was outspoken in her support of 2013’s gun bills.

“My constituents in Pueblo sent to me here to send a message – they don’t like the gun laws that were passed last year,” Rivera said.

Democrats assigned the bill to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, known as the “kill committee,” because it’s a reliable place to dispose of bills the majority doesn’t like.

The panel killed Rivera’s bill on a 3-2 vote after a hearing that lasted more than six hours.

Rivera said he did not want to do away with all background checks, just checks on private-party transactions.

Democrats, however, pointed out exceptions to last year’s law that allow gun owners to loan their guns to hunting buddies for up to three days at a time.

Ron Sloan, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said 6,198 private gun sellers did background checks through his agency.

Of those, 104 were denied because the seller wasn’t allowed to own a gun.

The denials included six people with restraining orders, two arrested or convicted of sexual assault, 16 for assault and one for homicide.

Rivera said that even though background checks might have flagged the buyers, the law does nothing if sellers choose to ignore it and complete the sale anyway.

Dozens of people showed up to testify. They included supporters and opponents of repealing the background checks.

The Legislature set aside its largest hearing room, with a capacity of nearly 200, for the hearing. It filled up.

The scene was a contrast to last year, when opponents of the gun bills clogged the corridors of the Capitol, while angry drivers circled outside, honking their horns.

Republicans also have introduced bills to repeal a 2013 bill to limit magazines to 15 rounds.