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Draft bill sheds light on possible assault weapons ban in Colorado

Gun control backers urge Boulder to pass assault weapons ban
Posted at 6:56 PM, Jan 24, 2023

DENVER — A bill that would ban assault weapons in the state could soon be introduced at the Colorado legislature.

Two versions of the draft bill have been leaked, giving some insight on what the biggest battle of the legislative session could be.

Denver7 obtained the newest version of the draft bill, dubbed the Mass Shooting Prevention Act.

The bill would do three main things: define what an assault weapon is and what firearm components qualify as one, prohibit the sale and manufacturing of those weapons in the state and ban rapid-fire trigger activators. Police officers, military members and government officers/ agents in their officials capacities would be exempt from the law.

The bill is co-sponsored by Democratic Representatives Andrew Boesnecker, Elisabeh Epps, Iman Jodeh, Cathy Kipp, Emily Sirota and Mike Weissman, as well as Senators Rhonda Fields and Julie Gonzales.

“Assault weapons in civilian hands endanger Colorado’s streets, stores, restaurants, places of worship, music venues, schools, movie theaters, and communities at large. With an assault weapon, even a firearms novice can perpetrate a mass casualty incident,” the draft bill reads.

A previous version of the draft bill would have also banned possession of assault weapons. This version, however, would not affect current gun owners.

The bill defines an assault weapon as a semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine, or that may be modified to accept one, and has one or more of these features:

  • A pistol grip, any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand
  • A folding, telescoping, thumbhole or detachable stock
  • A flash suppressor
  • A functional grenade launcher
  • A shroud attached to the barred that allows someone to hold the firearm with their non-trigger hand without being burned
  • A threaded barrel

The draft bill also includes some semiautomatic rifles and pistols, shotguns with revolving cylinders, semiautomatic shotguns with certain features and more.

The bill would ban the manufacturing, importation, purchase, sale or transfer of these weapons. It also would also ban the possession of a rapid-fire trigger activator.

Licensed gun dealers with these weapons after July 1, 2023, would only be allowed to sell or transfer the remainder of their inventory to non-Colorado residents, and it would need to happen out of the state.

After July 1, violations of the bill would be a class 2 misdemeanor. Violations that happen between July 1, 2023, and December 31, 2024, could also be imposed with a $1,000 civil penalty. Any violation beginning January 1, 2025, could face a $5,000 civil penalty.

Gun dealers that violate the law after July 1, 2023, could face a $250,000 for the first infraction and a $500,000 violation for each subsequent violation.

Denver7 reached out to the bill’s prime sponsors and is waiting to hear back. The Democratic House leadership is refraining from taking a stance on the draft bill at this point.

“I want to see the bill, the end bill, what that looks like. I may have some questions, to be honest with you, because I do a lot of work along this line. But I want to keep an open mind,” said Majority Leader Rep. Monica Duran.

House Speaker Rep. Julie McCluskie, meanwhile, said she will take a position once the bill is introduced because drafts can evolve. She went on to say that the people of Colorado are looking for real answers to gun violence, and the legislature is committed to passing policies that are effective.

Republicans, meanwhile, are already expressing concerns about the draft bill.

“The Colorado House Republicans remain committed to protecting the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. We will not support any bill that undermines the freedoms of Coloradans to protect and defend their families and property,” House Minority Leader Rep. Mike Lynch said in a statement. “What we’ve seen and heard should worry every law-abiding gun owner in Colorado. There still hasn’t been any formerly introduced gun control bills; however, some rumored legislation appears so radical even the Governor won’t agree to these concepts publicly.”

There is no word yet on when the draft bill will be introduced. Whenever it is, it will be one of the most talked about and most hotly contested of the legislative session.

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