DENVER — Democratic legislators here unveiled Tuesday a package of gun-control measures in the wake of last year’s Aurora theater shooting that critics said would make Colorado the most anti-gun state in the nation.
The proposed bills would prohibit the sale and ownership of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds; expand background checks to include sales between gun owners, and eliminate liability protection for assault-weapon manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
Senate President John Morse said the proposals stop short of banning so-called assault weapons, but that they “hold gun manufacturers, sellers, owners and possessors strictly liable for 100 percent of the damage done.”
“It will not ban them. It will just hold people strictly liable, strictly responsible for what occurs,” said Mr. Morse. “The effect is that everyone in the chain will be responsible for the actions of that gun.”
Republicans decried the proposals, saying they would stifle the constitutional rights of gun owners without improving public safety. A Republican bill to give school districts authority to allow designated staff to carry firearms was defeated last month in committee on a party-line vote.
“We have Democrats killing bills proven to make people safer and then introducing this package of bills that won’t make anyone safer,” said Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy. “It’s even more aggressive than what they have in New York.”
He compared the idea of making manufacturers liable for gun crimes to making Coors Brewing responsible for drunken driving.
Democrats control both houses of the legislature and may have a receptive governor in Democrat John Hickenlooper, who said after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December that he would consider new firearms restrictions.
At a press conference at the state capitol, Democratic lawmakers were joined by relatives of mass-shooting victims killed at Columbine High School and the Aurora Century theater in Colorado, as well as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields, whose son was killed by a gunman in 2005, said her proposed bills on universal background checks and high-capacity magazines would help others “avoid a life sentence of grief after losing a loved one to senseless gun violence.”