Bad week for guns on the Great Plains?
Author: John Tomasic - March 20, 2017 - Updated: March 22, 2017
You would think every week of the next couple years would by a good week for the gun-rights lobby. Washington is being run by hardline pro-gun officials. Even before Trump and the Republican Congress, the Obama-Biden efforts in Washington to pass any gun-control laws at all met stiff resistance and failed.
So what’s happening this week?
On Wednesday at the Capitol in Denver the Democratic-controlled House State Affairs is all but certain to dispatch three gun-rights-expansion bills, one on gun training for school employees, another that would lower to 18 the legal age for concealed carry permit eligibility for members of the military, and another bill that would repeal the state’s 15-round ammunition magazine limit.
Before the committee hearing, the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence will hold a press event at the Capitol that is sure to be passionate. Speakers will include relatives of victims killed in the Sandy Hook and Columbine school shootings. The speakers will marshal sympathy and anger in support of their cause and accumulating data that supports the gun laws already in place in Colorado.
“Every year a few Colorado State legislators introduce similar bills from the year before which if enacted would dramatically weaken Colorado’s well established gun violence prevention laws,” the coalition argued in a statement sent out Monday. “This year is no exception. Colorado, in particular, is a state that has endured some of the worst acts of mass gun violence in American history, and we know that in the tragic mass shooting in Aurora four years ago, lives could have been saved if the high-capacity magazine the shooter used had been off Colorado store shelves, as it is today. Colorado’s 2013 common-sense gun safety laws are saving lives and we will continue coming down to oppose weakening these laws every year if necessary.”
Colorado is a swing state with a split Legislature, a Democratic governor and a history of tragic gun violence. It makes sense gun rights laws would meet successful resistance here.
What about South Dakota? The Mount Rushmore state is one of the 25 “Republican state government trifectas,” where Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s office. Yet, a pair of bills meant to loosen concealed carry laws were stopped dead by a pair of vetoes on Friday.
One of the bills aimed to do away with the need for a concealed carry permit and the other would have allowed residents with an enhanced permit to carry concealed weapons at the state Capitol.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he thought the state’s current laws were working just fine.
“I am unaware of a single instance in which a person who could lawfully possess a gun was denied a permit to carry a concealed pistol,” Daugaard wrote in a letter accompanying his vetoes. As Reuters reported, Daugaard added that two counties in the state had turned down nearly 600 concealed carry permit applicants “who were disqualified due to mental illness or due to violent or drug-related crimes.”
It wasn’t just the governor who had qualms.
“The bills’ failure at the hands of a Republican governor pointed to a divide in his party over the regulations,” Reuters reported. “Neither bill received full Republican support in either chamber, and the statewide measure (to do away with concealed carry permits) was opposed by about one in five Republicans in the House and one in three in the Senate.”