UPDATE: The Durango Herald's Joe Hanel:
Democrats got an endorsement Tuesday from Jane Dougherty, a Colorado woman who lost her sister, Mary Sherlach, in the Connecticut elementary school shooting.
“Assault weapons are weapons of war. They belong on a battlefield. They have no place in a home,” Dougherty said.
Her sister died while running toward the gunman, she said.
“As our elected representatives, it is your job to keep our citizens safer,” Dougherty said. “Be brave. Be brave like my sister.”
Meanwhile, GOP Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman issues a statement in response to today's press conference:
"The bill of rights was written to protect us from our own government because America’s founders feared these kinds of proposals. What part of 'shall not be infringed' is unclear? This is the only amendment with this caveat – the founders were adamant on this. The Colorado Constitution says the right of no person to keep and bear arms shall be 'called into question.' These extreme proposals disregard our civil rights."
"These proposals cannot make Coloradans safer," Cadman said. "When only criminals have guns, more citizens will become victims."
"The extreme liberal wing of the ruling class would rather make us criminals, than allow us to protect our families from criminals."
FOX 31's Will Holden reports today:
Colorado Democrats introduced eight new bills at a legislative session Tuesday, calling them a “measured approach” to gun violence focusing on gun control and mental health.
Perhaps the most consequential of the eight bills is the proposed Assault Weapon Responsibility Act.
According to FOX31 Denver political reporter Eli Stokols, the bill is not calling for a ban on assault weapons. Instead, Stokols said it’s aim is to create stricter liability for gun manufacturers, sellers and owners dealing only with assault weapons — not with handguns, shotguns and bolt action rifles…
[Other] bills deal with universal background checks, a ban on high capacity magazines, new mental health support programs, domestic violence safeguards, in-person training for concealed carry permits, a requirement for individuals to pay for their own background checks and the prohibiting of concealed carry on most college campuses, stadiums and arenas.
Check out more information on all eight pieces of legislation here. It took some time for Democrats to hammer out this package of legislation, proceeding from an abundance of caution in our tradtionally gun-friendly state. As you can see, there's no outright assault weapons ban in the offing as many Republicans had feared.
In the case of the Assault Weapon Responsibility Act, the bill from Senate President John Morse to impose legal liability on assault weapons, there is a 2005 federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that currently shields gun manufacturers from liability. The new Colorado legislation pertains to the owner, possessor, seller and manufacturer of a firearm. It would apply to gun owners immediately, but manufacturers and sellers would not be affected until the PLCAA is overturned either by Congress or in the courts. Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House to do just that–H.R. 332, the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). While that bill faces long odds, now it has some state-level backup.
All told, it's a bold but still measured response to the growing call for action by government at all levels to reduce gun violence. We'll update as more coverage and statements come in.