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Bill to allow counties to ban firearms discharge clears House with surprising votes

from Colorado Politics 2.16.23

Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

A bill that seeks to allow counties to ban firearms discharges on certain private property cleared the House Thursday morning, with House Republicans mounting a furious, last-minute effort to kill it.

But the final vote — with eight Democrats voting against — shows the issue got Democratic opposition rarely seen on gun control bills that have moved in the last few years through Colorado's state House, a legislative body dominated by Democrats.

Among the Democrats voting against House Bill 1165: Speaker of House Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, whose district includes the rural central mountains.

Republican lawmakers have been quick to point out that the bill attempts to allow people moving into rural Colorado to dictate changes in rural lifestyles, including around firearms.

The "no" votes from Democrats came mostly from those representing rural or conservative-leaning districts.

Joining the 19 Republicans in "no" votes, in addition to McCluskie: Colorado Springs Democrats Reps. Marc Snyder and Regina English; Rep. Matthew Martinez of Alamosa, who represents the San Luis Valley; Rep. Bob Marshall of Highlands Ranch, who won a close race in 2022 in a district that hadn't before elected a Democrat; Rep. Shannon Bird of Westminster, Rep. Mary Young of Greeley and Rep. Sheila Lieder, whose district includes south Lakewood and parts of unincorporated Jefferson County.

House Republicans tried a number of procedural moves, including motions to send the bill back to committee or to lay it over until after the end of the session. Rep. Ken deGraaf, R-Colorado Springs, was admonished repeatedly by McCluskie for claiming those who vote for the bill are against the Second Amendment.

House Bill 1165 is sponsored by Reps. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder and Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, who chairs the House Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee. Amabile said the bill is in response to complaints, primarily in Clear Creek County, from residents in the St. Mary's Glacier neighborhood who claimed their neighbors were firing guns in a manner that was either unsafe or disruptive.

Current law already allows counties and municipalities to regulate firearms discharges in residential areas. But the current law limits counties to passing ordinances on a minimum of 100 residents per square mile. HB 1165 reduces that to 35 dwellings per square mile, which under federal definition of dwelling is 91 residents per square mile.

The final vote on HB 1165 was 36-27. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

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We live in America. Under the Constitution we are allowed to own and carry firearms. We are allowed to defend ourselves, our loved ones and our property when necessary. These are God given rights, and the Constitution is a God inspired document allowing us to remain a free and great nation, UNDER GOID. We also have the right to chose what kind of vehicles we will drive, what we will use to cook with, what we will use to power our vehicles and to heat our homes. No where is there any power given to the local leaders, or the national government to tell us what we can do. They work for us....they do NOT rule over us. The only…

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