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Gun laws remain in tact, as House Democrats shoot down 3 more bills

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Three Republican-sponsored gun bills met their predictable demise before a Democrat-led House committee Wednesday.

Voted down along party lines:

Senate Bill 5 to create a handgun safety training program that would allow school employees to participate in on-campus crisis response.

Senate Bill 6 to allow members of the military younger than 21 to carry a concealed weapon.

Senate Bill 7 to repeal the 2013 state limit of 15 rounds per ammunition magazine.

Republicans try to pass gun bills in vain in session to remind voters where Democrats stand on gun rights. Last year, however, Democrats grew their House majority in November by three seats and hold a 37-28 advantage.

In the Senate it was a mixed bag this year. Gun training for teachers died on a party line vote. Allowing military personnel under 21 to carry a conceal weapon picked up two Democratic votes, Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge and Leroy Garcia of Pueblo.

The ammunition limit repeal got four Democratic votes on its way out of the Senate: Garcia, Jahn and Kerry Donovan of Vail.

The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, which rejected all three Senate bills Wednesday, killed three House bills on guns on Feb. 8, each on a party-line vote.

House Bill 1036 would have allowed anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry it on school grounds. House Bill 1037 would have created a “stand your ground” law for business owners. House Bill 1097 would have repealed the 15-round magazine limit.

One more remains this session. Sen. Tim Neville’s “constitutional carry” bill, Senate Bill 116, would allow a lawful gun owner to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The bill is awaiting a final vote in the upper chamber.

“It’s time for Colorado to stop punishing its law-abiding citizens,” Neville said in a statement about his bill. “We have a patchwork of laws in place that asks our folks doing the right thing to obtain a permit to protect themselves, leaving them at a dangerous disadvantage.

“It’s time we place our faith in Coloradans and show that we trust them to protect their families, stand up for our values and follow the law. Outlawing self-defense only empowers the outlaws. It’s time we stood up for those law-abiding Coloradans who have charged us with defending their constitutionally-granted rights outlined centuries ago.”

The gun bills attract hours of testimony each year from the same witnesses.

Dan Murphy, representing the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, told the committee Wednesday afternoon that teachers who carry weapons would have to go through standard concealed weapons training, as well as instruction set up by their local board of education and sheriff’s office.

School boards also would have retained control on whether to allow teachers to be armed and participate in the crisis response.

“If we can trust them with our kids, I think we can trust them with a means to defend those kids,” Murphy said.

Jane Dougherty, a Colorado resident whose sister,Mary Sherlach,  was a school psychologist killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, provided a first-person, affecting view of gun violence.

“After four years of fighting dangerous gun bills it no longer surprises me that the answer to gun violence that has plagued our state is always more guns,” she told the committee Wednesday. “So I’m here again to oppose forcing guns into our schools.

“This misguided idea of training teachers to be armed with a gun is the gun lobby’s answer to what happened at Columbine, Arapahoe, Sandy Hook and, sadly, more schools across our nation.”

She reminded the committee that her sister died trying to protect her school.

“My sister would never have wanted to carry a gun,” Dougherty said. “Her job was to help children with their struggles and problems.”

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