Valley’s legislators voted to ease state gun-control laws
All five state legislators representing the Roaring Fork Valley supported making it easier for Colorado residents to carry guns – at least before Tuesday’s shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton.
The five legislators – two state senators and three representatives – all voted earlier this session to support a bill that would allow the state to override cities’ and towns’ gun-control ordinances.
In addition, the valley’s two state senators, Dave Wattenberg, R-Rangely, and Ken Chlouber, R-Leadville, voted April 13 to make it easier for citizens to acquire permits to carry concealed weapons. Chlouber sponsored that bill in the Senate.
The bill was headed for debate in the House this week. However, Chlouber said it will no longer be considered.
“Any contact I have with the gun bills is withdrawn,” he said from his office at the capitol in Denver. “It’s certainly not a time to discuss those issues.” Time to re-evaluate Chlouber said now is a time for “total thoughts and prayers” to be offered to the families of those killed or injured. It isn’t the time to debate the pros and cons of the gun legislation, he said, but there will be an appropriate time.
“I may even have to re-evaluate my own thoughts and my own heart on the subject,” Chlouber said.
He and the House sponsor of the concealed weapons bill discussed delaying consideration Wednesday morning with Gov. Bill Owens, and received his endorsement. The House sponsor, Majority Leader Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, will ask that no action be taken on the bill before the General Assembly adjourns May 5.
“The effect is it will be dead,” Chlouber said.
The same fate will meet the bill to override local gun control. The Senate and House had approved different versions of that bill and a conference committee was scheduled to start ironing out differences.
That process won’t happen and the bill won’t be forwarded to Owens, said Chlouber, whose district includes Aspen. House speaker reconsiders House Speaker Russell George, R-Rifle, said the Columbine High School tragedy will force lawmakers to re-examine their positions on gun bills next session.
“It’s bound to,” George said. “We always have to stop and reconsider and rethink.”
He said the case could be made that the tragedy and the gun bills could be separated and handled rationally. However, the debate would simply be too emotionally charged.
“We need to end discussion about guns right here,” he said. “We need to take a deep inner look and ask what’s going on here.”
George said he received a barrage of e-mails and telephone messages “that go both ways” since Tuesday’s shootings in Littleton. Some messages say “we told you what would happen,” George said. Others say no laws would have prevented Tuesday’s killings. Voting records Before Tuesday, the valley’s contingent supported every major measure that eased gun control, according to the Bills Room at the capitol.
Chlouber and Wattenberg, whose district includes portions of Eagle and Garfield counties, voted yes on the concealed weapons bill; yes on the bill that would wipe out local laws on gun control; and yes to a ban on local governments’ lawsuits against gun manufacturers.
The concealed weapons bill proposed uniform regulations for issuing concealed permits. It also eased the process for acquiring a permit.
Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, voted yes on overriding local-control regulations and yes to blocking lawsuits, according to a researcher at the Bills Room. Yes votes on both issues were also registered by George and Rep. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs.
None of the three representatives has had a chance to vote on the concealed weapons bill yet.
Miller represents Aspen. George’s district includes Pitkin County outside of Aspen and much of Garfield County.
Taylor’s district includes some of Garfield County and the Roaring Fork portion of Eagle County. Taylor declined Wednesday to talk about his votes on the bills this session. “It’s a dead issue,” he said.
And out of deference to the families of the victims, he said, it wasn’t the time to talk about whether he would reconsider his positions.
“In a charged atmosphere like this it’s not appropriate,” Taylor said.
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