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2011 Colorado Legislative Session Comes to a Close

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The 2011 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly adjourned sine die on May 11.  During this session, three pro-gun bills - Senate Bill 53, Senate Bill 77 and House Bill 1205 - were defeated in the designated Senate “kill committee” which has predictably defeated pro-Second Amendment bills by partisan 3 to 2 votes during the past several years.  Senate Bill 53 would have eliminated the authority of the governor to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms during a state of disaster/emergency.  House Bill 1205 would have allowed residents to carry a concealed handgun without a permit as long as they were legally eligible to purchase and possess a firearm.  Senate Bill 77 would have rectified the noticeable omission of businesses in current self-defense law.  Senate Bill 208, legislation in which the NRA remained neutral, passed in both chambers and is now awaiting action by Governor John Hickenlooper.

Senate Bill 53 was voted down by a partisan 3 to 2 vote in the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.  This legislation, introduced by state Senator Scott Renfroe (R-13), would have eliminated the authority of the governor to suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of firearms during a state of disaster emergency.  State lawmakers thought they addressed this issue years ago, but it was discovered that a drafting oversight actually left a component of the old law on the books.  During last year’s session, this committee defeated similar legislation on the same partisan 3 to 2 vote.

Senate Bill 77 was defeated in the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee by a partisan 3 to 2 vote.  Sponsored by state Senator Kevin Grantham (R-2), Senate Bill 77 would have extended Colorado’s self-defense law to places of business.  This legislation would have permitted all employees to defend themselves by any means of force, including deadly force, if they had reasonable belief that an intruder had committed or intended to commit a crime during unlawful entry. 

House Bill 1205 was also defeated in the Senate State, Military & Veterans Affairs Committee by a partisan 3 to 2 vote.  House Bill 1205, introduced by state Representative Chris Holbert (R-44), would have allowed residents to carry a concealed handgun without a permit as long as they were legally eligible to purchase and possess a firearm.  This bill passed in the Colorado House by a 40 to 25 vote on March 2.

Despite this, the NRA will continue to urge lawmakers and the Governor to support this pro-gun legislation in Colorado next session.  The NRA strongly supports the constitutional right of Coloradans to carry for self-defense.

On May 6, Senate Bill 208 passed in the state House, with amendments, by a 49 to 14 vote. The state Senate concurred with the House amendments on May 9 and this bill is awaiting action by Governor Hickenlooper.  The House amendments would ensure that monies are expended consistent with the purposes for which they are received, collected, or appropriated.  Sponsored by state Senators Gail Schwartz (D-5) and Mary Hodge (D-25), SB 208 will combine State Parks and the Division of Wildlife under the Department of Natural Resources. 

The NRA remained neutral on this legislation, but expressed detailed concerns about this merger in an e-mailed letter to lawmakers on the committee.  We were very clear that our primary interest is that dollars collected from hunters be used solely for the benefit of hunters.  Specifically, sportsmen pay license fees and federal excise taxes on guns, ammunition and certain hunting equipment.  Those funds are then returned to the state.  Any allocation of those dollars to non-hunter related activities would put the state in diversion and jeopardize those federal monies.

We also have concerns that any newly established boards or commissions having a membership beyond the hunting community may approve policies adverse to hunting and sportsmen.  For example, in some states, we have seen public land use closures and lead ammunition bans, among others, that negatively impact hunters despite the disproportionate share of funds contributed from sportsmen.  

Unfortunately, we have witnessed issues such as the aforementioned in a handful of states where departments and agencies were consolidated.  Just this year in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources split and returned to its former separate structure.  While we remained neutral on SB 208, we considered it important to express our concerns, and for lawmakers to be cognizant of potential issues in the future.

Thank you to all of the NRA members who took the time to contacts their Colorado legislators this session.  The NRA will continue to fight for your Second Amendment Rights!

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.