Why the Gun Safety Laws Made in Colorado Stayed in Colorado

By Eileen McCarron, Colorado Ceasefire

Denver – Almost unnoticed, and much more quietly than last year, something remarkable happened in Colorado over the last month: the common sense gun safety regulations passed in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown massacres survived despite attempts to overturn them. Once again, Colorado has done what Congress could not. The gun safety laws made in Colorado stayed in Colorado.

There’s a very simple reason why: a coalition of determined citizens, including grassroots groups like Colorado Ceasefire, parents, students, families, gun-owners, and survivors of gun violence including Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown all made their voices heard at the State Capitol. This year, supporters of the new laws outnumbered the opponents. In the end, ten bills which either attempted to roll back the important protections enacted in 2013 or to weaken Colorado’s existing laws were defeated.

Colorado Ceasefire Board Member Tom Mauser lost his son Daniel at Columbine and has literally been wearing Daniel’s shoes to lobby for gun safety legislation ever since. As he puts it, the reason Coloradans remained steadfast is simple.

“The public supports gun safety and didn’t want to see these laws overturned. So much of what they heard during last year’s hearings about these bills was flat wrong, and it was a good opportunity for us to tell the truth. We will continue to do that and let citizens know which leaders are fully dedicated to community safety.”

The genesis of the Colorado laws began shortly after the Aurora Theater massacre in the summer of 2012. Colorado Ceasefire, a grassroots organization active since 2000, began meeting with their allies and Colorado stakeholders in the fall of 2012 to hammer out a plank of legislative proposals. Our last stakeholder meeting was on December 14, 2012, where we made our final legislative decisions while reeling from the news of the horrific mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Newtown shootings strengthened the resolve of advocates, victim families, and the legislators here in Colorado to do something to stop the bloodshed. The sponsor of the background check bill, Representative Rhonda Fields, lost her own son Javad Marshall Fields and his fiancée Vivian Wolfe to gun violence.

The hearings last year were contentious and accompanied with an unprecedented level of personal vitriol and threats. But so many brave legislators kept faith with the survivors and families and persevered to enact stronger gun safety laws. Colorado was leading the nation on a new path.

Unfortunately the rancor of the opposition did not end with the signing of the bills. It continued with the ugly recalls of two senators and the forced resignation of a third.

Gun extremists approached the 2014 general assembly in hopes of repealing most of what had been accomplished in the preceding year. But legislators were not deterred by the previous threats or reminders of the recalls. The gun safety laws that were made in Colorado last year have stayed in Colorado thanks to advocates like Ceasefire who were at every hearing and testified against every attempt to overturn the laws.

These new laws were the product of a diverse, inclusive process with many Colorado voices, including Ceasefire, at the table. These laws save lives, and the fight to protect them isn’t over yet.

A rundown of the anti-gun safety bills that failed, all of which Colorado Ceasefire testified against :

SB14-094 Repeal Universal Background Check and Fees
Defeated 2-3 on Feb. 3 in Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs

(Sen. George Rivera and Rep. Jared Wright) This bill would have repealed the provisions of HB1229 and HB1228 from last year. Criminals could once again easily acquire firearms through online sites, classified advertisements and other private sales because no one would check their backgrounds. It also would return the cost of the background check to the taxpayer, rather than the gun buyer. Every Senate Republican signed on as a cosponsor of the bill.

HB14-1041 Permitless Concealed Carry
Defeated 4-7 on Feb 4 in House Judiciary
(Reps. Jared Wright and Chris Holbert and Sen. Kevin Grantham) Would have allowed individuals to decide on their own if they were eligible to carry a concealed weapon, avoiding background checks and related screening for past criminal behavior or mental health adjudications.

SB14-038 Eliminate Governor’s Authority to Restrict Firearms During Emergency
Defeated 2-3 on Feb 10 in Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs

(Sen. Scott Refroe, Rep. Justin Everett) Would have removed firearms from the list of items that the Governor can restrict the sale, transfer and transport of during a time of emergency.

HB14-1151 Repeal the Ban on High Capacity Magazines
Defeated 4-7 on Feb. 10 House State, Veterans and Military Affairs

(Reps. Chris Holbert and Lori Saine and Sen. Vicki Marble) Would have removed the ban on the sale and transfer of ammunition magazines over 15 rounds which became law last year. Every Republican Senator plus one Democratic Senator cosponsored this bill. Every Republican Representative except one also cosponsored this bill.

HB14-1157 Arm the Teachers
Defeated 4-7 on Feb. 11 in House Judiciary

(Rep. Stephen Humphrey and Sen. Scott Renfroe) Would have granted school boards the power to allow district employees who are CCW permit holders to take handguns on school property. Tom Mauser, who lost his son Daniel, in the Columbine shooting and Jane Dougherty, whose sister was killed in the Newtown shooting, spoke movingly of their opposition to arming teachers.

SB14-100 Repeal the Ban on High Capacity Magazines
Defeated 2-3 on Feb. 12 in Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs

(Sens. Randy Baumgardner and Bernie Herpin) Would have removed the ban on the sale and transfer of ammunition magazines over 15 rounds which became law last year. Co-sponsored by all Republican Senators.

SB14-090 No Background Checks for Step-Family Members
Defeated 2-3 Feb 14 in Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs

(Sen. Randy Baumgardner) Last year’s universal background checks exempted certain family members from having to undergo background checks before a transfer of a firearm. It was an extensive list including children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, aunts, uncles, nephew, nieces, and 1st cousins. This bill would have extended the exemptions for family members to step-family members (i.e., step-brothers, step-aunts, step-cousins).

HB14-1063 Stand Your Ground – Business
Defeated 4-7 on Feb. 17 in House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs

(Rep. Justin Everett and Sen. Kevin Grantham) Deadly Force Against Intruder at a Business. This was a Stand Your Ground bill. This is the 9th year this bill has been considered.

HB14-1097 Sales and Use Tax Holiday for Firearms, Ammunition and Accessories
Defeated 5-7 on Feb. 19 in House Finance

(Rep. Clarice Navarro and Sen. George Rivera) Would have provided a Friday and Saturday in August for which no state sales taxes would be collected. Local governments could follow suit.

HB14-1230 – Restoration of Firearms Rights to Some Felons
Defeated 4-7 Feb. 20 in House Judiciary

(Rep. Perry Buck and Sen. Pat Steadman) Would have allowed “non-violent” felons to regain gun rights after 5 years. Even supporters in committee, testified it went too far, and thus was significantly amended before it was killed.


Colorado Ceasefire is the only Colorado gun violence prevention organization that has a political committee which endorses and supports state legislative candidates. It is a nonpartisan committee dedicated to holding legislators accountable for their votes on gun issues. In the 2012 elections, Ceasefire endorsed 48 candidates, 69% won. Of the 21 financially-supported candidates, 20 won; 98% of the political committee’s 2012 monies went to winning candidates.