February 07, 2013
The owners and makers of assault-style weapons could soon be held legally liable in Colorado for crimes committed with their guns, if sponsors of a new gun-control package have their way.
State Democrats unveiled the broad package of measures this week, joined by gun violence survivors from the Columbine, Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings.
The eight bills detailed at a press conference Tuesday tackle gun control as well as mental health issues tied to gun violence. Among them are measures to put universal background checks in place for private gun sales and a bill to ban sales of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
But getting the most attention is the gun manufacturer-liability measure.
"This is the most aggressive anti-gun legislation ever floated in the country," Republican Sen. Greg Brophy told FoxNews.com Thursday. "To hold everybody in the entire chain of possession responsible for a crime committed by one person? The manufacturer, dealer and owners? That's equivalent to blaming Coors for a drunk driver and the 7-Eleven after someone steals a 12-pack."
The proposal would hold manufacturers of firearms, as well as sellers, responsible for crimes committed with those guns. The measure apparently conflicts with an existing federal law, but Democrats in the state reportedly say they want to get that federal law repealed.
Republicans say the gun liability measure would effectively ban those weapons because manufacturers and retailers would be afraid to sell them.
While Democrats hold a majority in both state houses, though, getting the sweeping series of bills passed will be an uphill battle.
Colorado has taken center stage in the country's fight over gun control. David Keene, the head of the National Rifle Association, is in Denver to meet with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Senate President John Morse.
Keene called universal background checks a political "sweet spot," during an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. He added that the current background check systems are underfunded and that forcing them on private sales would be logistically difficult.
Colorado's governor has said in the past he supports background checks, but he has remained publicly quiet about the legislative package introduced earlier this week.
"The governor is hiding under his desk when it comes to answering the hard questions," Brophy said. "It took me 30 seconds to figure out what the plans do. The governor shouldn't be given a pass. He needs to address the issue."