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Bill to ban purchase, sale and transfer of so-called assault weapons in Colorado will be shelved

Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat and one of the main sponsors of House Bill 1292, announced Monday that she would ask for the measure to be killed



By Jesse Paul 2:22 PM MDT on May 6, 2024

from The Colorado Sun


A Colorado bill that would have banned the purchase, sale and transfer of a broad swath of semiautomatic firearms, defined in the measure as assault weapons, will be shelved at the request of one of its main sponsors.

Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat and one of the lead sponsors of House Bill 1292, announced Monday that she would ask for the measure to be killed Tuesday in the Senate State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

“After thoughtful conversations with my Senate colleagues, I decided that more conversations need to take place outside of the pressure cooker of the Capitol during the last weeks of the legislative session,” Gonzales said in a written statement. “In that spirit, I look forward to renewing and continuing those discussions over the interim.”

She added: “It is clear that survivors of devastating gun violence, responsible gun owners, and local and national policy advocates remain committed to doing the work necessary to save lives — and an assault weapons ban will do just that.”

The legislation passed the House in mid April on a 35-27 vote, mostly along party lines. No Republicans voted for the bill and a handful of Democrats also voted against it.

The measure has languished in the Senate ever since, awaiting a committee hearing that was not scheduled until this week. The legislative session ends Wednesday. 


Even if Gonzales had not asked for the bill to be killed, it was unclear if the measure could make it out of the Senate State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. 

Democrats have a 3-2 majority on the panel, but one of the three Democrats is Sen. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial lawmaker whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting. Sullivan is a fierce gun-regulation advocate but a skeptic of a so-called assault weapons ban in Colorado.

“Banning? That doesn’t end well for us,” Sullivan, told The Washington Post last year. “And I’m speaking as the father of a son who was murdered by an assault weapon.”

It was unclear if the bill had enough support to pass the full Senate. Gov. Jared Polis also said he is skeptical of the idea.

“I’ve long been skeptical of discussions around ‘this kind of equipment versus that kind of equipment,’” the Democrat told The Sun in an interview earlier this year. “I think it’s more an issue of making sure our gun safety laws are followed. I think where you can and can’t safely carry guns is a legitimate discussion, as well as making sure that our strong gun laws are enforced.”

Gonzales said she was proud that the measure had passed the House for the time in state in history.

House Bill 1292 would have defined an assault weapons as: 

  • A semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine or of being modified to accept a detachable magazine that also has a pistol grip, muzzle brake, functional grenade or flare launcher, shroud attached to the barrel, threaded barrel, or a folding, telescoping or detachable stock. One or more of those secondary features would make the pistol qualify as an assault weapon under the bill.

  • A semi-automatic pistol that’s capable of accepting a detachable magazine or is capable of being modified to accept a detachable magazine that also has a threaded barrel, second pistol grip, shroud attached to the barrel, a muzzle brake or an arm brace. One or more of those secondary features would make the pistol an assault weapon under the bill.

  • A semi-automatic shotgun that either has a pistol grip, fixed large-capacity magazine, or a folding telescoping or thumbhole stock. One or more of those secondary features would make the shotgun an assault weapon under the bill.

  • A .50-caliber rifle

The bill also would have defined a long list of specific makes and models of firearms as being assault weapons, including AK-47s, AR-15s, TEC-9s, Beretta Cx4 Storms, Sig Sauer SG550s, MAC-10s, and Derya MK-12s.

Possession of such firearms would have still been allowed under the bill, but people would be prohibited from importing them into Colorado.

The measure would also have banned the possession of rapid-fire trigger activators, which can make a semi-automatic gun fire at a rate similar to an automatic firearm.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have some form of a law banning certain semi-automatic weapons, according to Giffords, an organization that tracks gun policies across the nation. The group is named after former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, a Democrat who was nearly killed in a mass shooting.

The failure of House Bill 1292 marks the second time in as many years that a measure banning the purchase, sale and transfer of so-called assault weapons has been introduced in the Capitol but didn’t pass. The 2023 version didn’t make it out of its first committee.

The main House sponsors of Senate Bill 1292 were Reps. Tim Hernández and Elisabeth Epps, both Denver Democrats.

“I think we had an pretty Herculean effort this year, going from first committee death last year to passing an entire chamber,” Hernández said. “About 50 days from now, I will be pulling the bill title for next year. And I’m really looking forward to running it next year as well.”


Colorado Sun staff writer Sandra Fish contributed to this report.


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