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'Assault' weapons ban draws hundreds to state Capitol

Reps. Elisabeth Epps and Tim Hernandez, both Denver Democrats, present their bill to ban assault weapons. 

from Colorado Politics


The battle over banning so-called "assault weapons" is being waged at this hour in the House Judiciary Committee.

The panel began reviewing House Bill 1292 on Tuesday morning in a hearing that is expected to through the night or even into early Wednesday, with some 600 witnesses signed up to testify.

HB 1292 is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Elisabeth Epps and Tim Hernandez, both from Denver. 

Epps tried a virtually identical measure last year with the same committee, but it died on a 6-7 vote, with three Democrats voting against, along with the committee's four Republicans. That was in part tied to concerns that the measure would be vetoed by Gov. Jared Polis, who has opposed such a ban in the past.

That hasn't changed.

But what has changed is the committee itself.

House Speaker Julie McCluskie removed Epps and another member, Rep. Bob Marshall, citing conflicts within the committee. A third member, Rep. Said Sharbini, resigned in December. 

McCluskie also said she wanted the committee to reflect more progressive viewpoints. She replaced Epps, Marshall and Sharbini, the latter two who cast "no" votes on the bill in 2023, with Reps. Lorena Garcia of Adams County and Leslie Herod and Javier Mabrey, both of Denver. The third "no" vote came from Rep. Marc Snyder of Colorado Springs, but he's the last Democratic member on the committee who voted "no" last year. The three new members of the committee are all expected to vote in favor of HB 1292.

The committee's chair, Rep. Mike Weissman of Aurora and vice-chair Jennifer Bacon of Denver both voted in favor of the 2023 measure. That could mean the 2024 version, at a minimum, could win approval from the committee on almost a party-line vote. 

Should the bill pass and be signed into law, it's a certainty to be challenged in court, particularly given the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

In that 2022 ruling, the Court majority said the ability to carry a pistol in public is a constitutional right guaranteed by both the Fourteenth and Second Amendments. While the ruling pertained specifically to concealed weapons, it's been more broadly interpreted to apply to gun regulations nationwide. It's also led to legislative bills on prohibiting guns in "sensitive" places — a Colorado bill doing exactly that will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Hernandez, the first Gen-Z lawmaker, recounted during the hearing the number of mass shootings committed with "assault" weapons, which is defined in the bill as 13 different types of weapons, including Uzis, Thompson, AK and AR-type weapons. 

"I might be the only person in this building who has been living with this for my entire life that I have never known a school without a school shooter drill," Hernandez told the committee, noting he was two years old when the Columbine massacre took place in 1999, was in the ninth grade when the Aurora Theater Shooting happened in 2012 and in tenth grade when Sandy Hook happened later that year. 

The shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood took place in his senior year, and more mass shootings took place while he was in college and in his early years as a public school teacher — all those shootings involved "assault" weapons, he said.

"This has been happening my entire life, and to be frank with you, I'm not waiting anymore," he said, adding it's the legislature that taught him nobody would save them. "I now teach the young people in my classroom that we must save ourselves," pressing for gun control measures like students did last year after the shootings that impacted East High School. 

This story will be updated. 

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3 Comments


People were just assaulted with a knife. BAN KNIVES!!! ...and while you are at it, ban scimitars, swords, bodies(lethal hands), rocks, slingshots etc.

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Enforce the laws that are in place. Murder is illegal . How many shooters stole or got there hands on a family members weapon. Stick it to legal hub owners and pamper the criminal! Co trol the gangs!


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I guess everybody knows that Hernandez is a racist communist.

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