Colorado House of Representatives passes ban on sale of assault weapons

Gun Rights

Colorado’s House of Representatives passed HB 1292 Sunday by a vote of 35-27. The bill bans the sale and transfer of semiautomatic firearms within the state and will now head to the state senate.

The bill prohibits people from manufacturing, importing, purchasing, selling, offering to sell or transferring ownership of an “assault weapon.” The bill defines an assault weapon as a semiautomatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine or can be “readily modified” to do so and has one or more of a list of specific characteristics. Some of these characteristics include a pistol grip or thumbhole stock, a folding, telescoping or detachable stock, a muzzle brake, a functional grenade launcher or flare launcher, a shroud attached to the barrel or a threaded barrel.

The bill’s assault weapon definition also contains a list of specific firearm types. The list includes AR-15s, which opponents like the NRA characterize the banning of as being unconstitutional, viewing it as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.

The bill also includes a list of individuals who are exempt from it. This list includes members of the military, peace officers, public museums and licensed gun dealers who sell their remaining inventory to an out-of-state resident. Individuals already in lawful possession of assault weapons are allowed to keep their firearms. The bill penalizes a person in violation with a first-time penalty of $250,000 and $500,000 for each subsequent violation.

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The bill cites data that a federal assault weapon ban expired in 2004, leading to a place where “gun massacres skyrocketed by approximately one-hundred and eighty-three percent.” In 2022, the US Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen that New York’s “proper cause” requirement to carry a concealed weapon violated the Fourteenth  Amendment and thus struck the state’s law down, which helped bolster gun advocates. The Fourteenth Amendment requires states to follow the Second Amendment.

The state legislature introduced several bills after a shooting in Boulder, but these bills fizzled out and did not become law. Last week, Representative Elisabeth Epps said on X (formerly Twitter) before the bill passed, “Guns used in public mass casualty shootings have no place in society. We need a federal ban. But we can’t afford to wait on [C]ongress. Saving lives >>>saving seats.”

Multiple gun regulations were signed last year, like raising the age to 21 in Colorado after the most recent shooting at a nightclub. Colorado is where the 1999 Columbine mass shooting occurred, marking one of the first large-scale shootings in the US.

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