DENVER — The Colorado House gave preliminary approval to four gun-control bills after a marathon floor debate and some arm-twisting by Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
Mr. Biden, who was vacationing Friday in Aspen, called a handful of Democratic legislators from swing districts to urge them to support the proposals, which included universal background checks for gun transfers and a 15-round limit on ammunition magazines.
“I was totally surprised,” Democratic state Rep. Tony Exum of Colorado Springs told Fox affiliate KDVR-TV. “He [Mr. Biden] just said he’s watching us and asked if we had a chance to move these bills forward and said what an important signal it would send to the country if we do.”
The legislature approved the four measures Friday on voice votes after more than 12 hours of debate, which featured emotional testimony from Democrats about the need to prevent mass shootings such as the Aurora theater massacre in July.
“This is about kids that have been shot over and over and over again,” said Democratic state Rep. Crisanta Duran of Denver.
Republicans argued that the bills, while well-intentioned, would do nothing to stop mass shootings but would hurt the economy by driving gun manufacturers out of the state. Two Colorado ammunition companies, Magpul Industries and Alfred Manufacturing, indicated Friday that they will relocate if the magazine limit becomes law.
“We have no evidence that passing this in any way increases public safety. But we’re going to pass it anyway,” said House Minority Leader Mark Waller. “We’re going to put 700 Colorado working families’ livelihoods in jeopardy on a hunch, on a guess, nothing more than a guess, that this bill is going to have an impact on public safety.”
In addition to limiting ammunition clips and mandating background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, the bills would require gun buyers to pay for their own criminal background checks and forbid concealed-carry permit holders from bringing firearms into buildings on college campuses.
A final vote on the four bills is scheduled for Monday. Democrats, who hold five-vote majorities in both chambers, have proposed eight gun-control measures in all.