Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne calls for Colorado to ban ‘bump stocks,’ other gun modification devices

Author: Ernest Luning - October 6, 2017 - Updated: February 15, 2018

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democrat, announces her run for governor of Colorado on Sept. 7, 2017, at Spring Cafe in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democrat, announces her run for governor of Colorado on Sept. 7, 2017, at Spring Cafe in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a Democratic candidate for governor of Colorado, on Friday called on the Legislature to ban “bump stocks” and other gun modification devices like the ones apparently used by the Las Vegas shooter Sunday night, a position shared by her fellow leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

“Enough is enough,” Lynne said in a statement. “Each year mass shootings become more and more deadly, and we must do all that we can to get the dangerous weapons and devices that are used in these killings off our streets.” She hailed what she termed the “common sense gun safety legislation” enacted in recent years in Colorado but said a string of increasingly deadly mass shootings means more has to be done.

“As governor, I would not hesitate to sign legislation the minute it hits my desk to get these killing devices off our streets,” Lynne said.

The devices, originally intended to help people with disabilities, fit over the stock and grip of a semi-automatic rifle and allow the weapon to fire continuously — some 400 to 800 rounds in a single minute according to the Associated Press. Bump stocks were found among the gunman’s weapons and explain why victims in Las Vegas heard what sounded like automatic-weapons fire as the shooter rained bullets from a casino high-rise, slaughtering 58 people in a concert below and wounding hundreds more.

A move to ban the devices at the federal level gained some unexpected allies this week as the National Rifle Association joined the Trump administration and top congressional Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, all said they support regulation.

Lynne said she would support legislation to ban the “manufacture, possession, transfer, sale, or importation” of bump stocks and similar devices.

A spokesman for Colorado House Democrats said he hadn’t heard that any lawmakers were working on bills to that effect but added that congressional action could make a state-level ban unnecessary.

At the federal level, Senate Republicans blocked 2013 legislation to reinstate the expired 1994 ban on so-called assault weapons. That bill also would have banned devices like bump stocks.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis, Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston all have said they support banning bump stocks and devices that can turn firearms into what amount to fully automatic weapons in Colorado, nationwide or both.

Kennedy, a former state treasurer, told Colorado Politics she supports banning bump stocks, silencers — also called suppressors — and assault weapons.

“My heart goes out to Nevada,” she said. “We are no stranger to tragedies like this here in Colorado and so many victim’s family members are reliving their grief right now. We will keep reliving this again and again until something is done. We need to outlaw bump stocks, silencers, and military style weapons that are designed to kill large numbers of people in a small amount of time. We need to solve this now and Congress should have acted long ago.”

When he served in the Colorado Senate in the aftermath of the Aurora theater shooting, Johnston supported state legislation restricting the size of ammunition magazines and expanding background checks to include all sales, his campaign noted.

This week, Johnston urged Congress to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and ban bump stock devices. He also called on the Legislature to ban the sale of bump stocks in January.

“I don’t need a 100-round magazine for self defense, and no hunter worth his or her salt needs a machine gun to hunt elk,” Johnston said in a statement.

A campaign spokeswoman said Polis supports banning bump stocks and pointed Colorado Politics to a recent 9News story detailing the congressman’s position on gun issues. In a survey, Polis said he supports the concept of a bump-stock ban but is “still analyzing the details of the specific legislation,” referring to House and Senate bills that the other three Democrats in Colorado’s congressional delegation have signed onto as co-sponsors.

“Jared supports banning bump stocks and similar devices that convert popular guns into illegal automatic weapons both in Colorado and nationwide. He is optimistic this can be done on the federal level in a bipartisan way while preserving our freedom and gun owners rights,” Mara Sheldon, his campaign communications director, said in a written statement.

Polis didn’t support the 2013 Assault Weapons Ban, telling The Denver Post at the time that he thought it would violate the Second Amendment to make it illegal for law-abiding Americans to possess weapons.

“I believe it would make it harder for Colorado families to defend themselves and also interfere with the recreational use of guns by law-abiding Coloradans,” Polis said. “If we want to reduce violence, we should invest in improving our schools to ensure that young people have jobs and do not turn to gangs, crime or violence of any form, and improving access to mental health services.”

In a statement issued after the Las Vegas shooting, Polis said he supports a number of measures to prevent gun violence — including requiring comprehensive background checks for firearms purchases, establishing a congressional panel on gun violence prevention, ending a ban on public health research into the causes of gun violence and prohibiting gun purchases by people on the FBI terrorism watch list.

A Polis spokeswoman wouldn’t say whether he supports an assault weapons ban like the one proposed in the 2013 legislation. Polis told 9News earlier this week he supports a 1986 law still on the books that bans machine guns and said it’s time to “update this law for the 21st century” when asked if he supports an assault weapons ban.


— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.