Mon February 4, 2013

Capitol Conversation: The Gun Debate At The Capitol

The gun debate is one of the central issues during the state’s legislative session. Lawmakers have already heard the first two Republican proposals.

Both proposals failed along party lines and highlight the wide difference between Democrats and the GOP when it comes to tackling gun violence.

The first of the defeated measures would’ve removed the gun ban in schools and allowed districts to decide whether teachers and other school employees could carry concealed handguns.

The Denver Post's Tim Hoover on the left, Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on the right
The Denver Post's Tim Hoover on the left, Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on the right
Credit Bente Birkeland

The second bill would’ve required businesses to either hire a security guard or allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. The business would face liability in the case of a shooting if it failed to meet either standard.

Democrats, who hold a majority in both chambers, have not introduced any gun bills yet.

Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel says for both parties gun legislation is as much about politics as policy.

“For some (Republicans) it’s just constituent bills that they promised they’d run as an alternative to what the Democrats would want to do even though they have no chance.”

Ashby says Democrats don’t know what they want to do.

“I don’t know if they want to go after assault weapons. I don’t know if there’s any agreement on the high capacity magazines. I don’t know if they even have an answer on the universal background check. Because one aspect of that might call for gun registration for everyone who has a gun.”

The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover says he’s not optimistic there will be any middle ground on gun legislation or bipartisan support. He doubts whether any Republican will back universal background checks or a ban on high capacity magazine clips.

He says Democrats are more worried about getting their party on the same page than what Republicans think.

“Democrats are trying to figure out what’s going to be palatable to the majority of Democrats. What might the Governor go for? And also it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some quiet polling happening right now to see what the public might be willing to stomach.”

Hoover notes that Dems don’t want internal infighting on gun issues.