Colorado governor vetoes bill to ease gun background checks

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed some gun owners to bypass additional background checks each time they buy a gun.

In a letter to lawmakers, Ritter said the bill had inadequate safeguards to prevent people who have had their handgun permits revoked.

He said there also was no way to notify law enforcement that a person has a valid handgun permit because the state is barred from keeping a list of permit holders.

“There are numerous troubling aspects to this bill,” Ritter wrote.

The bill would have allowed some people with permits to carry concealed weapons to skip additional background checks each time they buy a gun.

Senators agreed to change the bill to require the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to come up with one tamperproof permit card to be used across Colorado.

Permit holders would have had to show that permit and another form of identification when buying another gun.

Ritter sided with a group representing Colorado sheriffs who opposed the bill because there is no statewide database to keep track of whether a permit has been suspended because a gun owner had had a run-in with the law.

Ritter also said there were no safeguards to force violators of concealed-carry regulations to surrender their permits, and no requirement to verify a handgun permit was valid.

Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Grand Junction and a law enforcement officer in Mesa County, said he didn’t understand Ritter’s reasoning because the federal government already recognizes Colorado gun permits for gun sales.

Senate sponsor Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said 19 Democrats, almost a third of the Democratic caucus, backed the bill.

“I think he’s out of touch with most of Colorado in this case,” Brophy said.

Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry said it was Ritter’s first big test as governor on gun rights issues and promised it will be an issue if Ritter runs for re-election next year. Penry also has been mentioned as a potential candidate.