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Coloradans have watched the governor’s stance on firearms morph in the months since the Aurora theater massacre in July. In the aftermath of the shooting, he implied the shooter would have been able to carry out his plan even without firearms, saying, “if it wasn’t one weapon, it would have been another.”

In January, however, Mr. Hickenlooper said “the time is right” to consider gun control restrictions such as universal background checks. A month later, he said in a Facebook post that he would sign most of the gun control bills, including HB 1224.

“He endorsed this. He may regret it now, but he did endorse it,” said Mr. Ciruli. “He’s the kind of guy who wants to be universally appreciated, but this issue is going to cost him some votes. I just don’t think it’s going to be that many.”