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Colorado Senate debates gun bills

Sat., March 9, 2013

DENVER – Colorado’s most sweeping gun control package in memory advanced after a marathon 12-hour debate Friday – but it didn’t survive intact.

The gun packages advanced only after Democrats withdrew two of the most controversial pieces of the package, a gun ban on college campuses and a measure to hold assault-weapon owners liable for damages caused by their weapons.

The surviving pieces included a limit on ammunition magazines and a gun ban for people accused of domestic violence.

Democratic Senate President John Morse claimed victory in the state’s overall gun-control debate, even as he conceded the battle grew ugly.

“Cleansing a sickness from our souls doesn’t come easy. It’s gruesome,” Morse said in a short speech announcing the withdrawal of his assault-weapon liability measure.

The Colorado debate is being watched nationally as a bellwether of how far politically moderate states are willing to go with new gun laws in the wake of mass shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

Morse’s comments punctuated a nasty, drawn-out debate that drew thousands to the state Capitol over recent days. The gun package jammed legislative emails, prompted several gun-supporting businesses to threaten to leave Colorado and left one man facing criminal charges for threatening messages he allegedly sent a Democratic sponsor of some of the bills.

Friday’s gun debate stretched past 12 hours, with Republicans in the Senate taking turns trying to defeat the gun controls. Democrats pulled the two most divisive bills before Republicans could speak against them. At least three Democrats were planning to side with the GOP, a margin big enough to defeat those measures.

A formal Senate vote on the measures is required next week before the bills clear the Senate.


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