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January 8, 2013
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Pitkin County letter targets gun control

ASPEN - More robust background checks for gun buyers and reinstatement of a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons are among the measures outlined in a letter Pitkin County commissioners will consider Tuesday with the intention of urging elected officials at the state and federal levels to take action on gun control.

Before the holiday break and after a December mass killing in Connecticut left 20 schoolchildren dead, Commissioner George Newman pushed the county to seek action on gun control. County Manager Jon Peacock has drafted a letter for commissioners' consideration Tuesday, at their first meeting of the new year.

"Unfortunately, gun violence in our country, especially among our children, has reached epidemic proportions," the letter reads, noting there were at least 14 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2012, including the Connecticut shootings and the July theater shooting in Aurora that left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

The letter calls on the Colorado governor and Legislature, the president and Congress to take action on gun control and enhanced mental-health services at the federal and state levels. The latter should be a top funding priority, the letter asserts.

It urges ending the "gun show loophole" that allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without adequate background checks; more robust background checks to ensure guns aren't sold to felons and the mentally ill; reinstating the ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons and limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines; and requiring consumer-safety standards for all guns.

"As a county with a number of responsible sportspeople and gun owners, we do not oppose gun ownership, nor is it our intent to infringe on the 2nd Amendment," the letter also states.

The time for silence and inaction on issues of reasonable gun-safety legislation and adequate funding of mental-health services has passed, it concludes.

The local push for action would join a chorus of such calls among some at other levels of government. After the Connecticut shootings, President Barack Obama said new gun laws would be a priority, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said "the time is right" for state lawmakers to consider further gun restrictions.

The governor has proposed added funding for mental-health services and wants mental-health records immediately available for background checks on gun buyers. Other possibilities for the legislative session, which began Monday, include bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

In Congress, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, last week introduced a proposal to ban high-capacity magazines. Her district includes the site of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. She co-authored the bill with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat whose husband was killed in a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad.

janet@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 8, 2013 07:55AM Published Jan 8, 2013 01:31AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.