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House Democrats invoke rule to limit debate, advance three firearm control bills

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives invoked a rule to limit debate on gun control legislation over the weekend and passed three bills on the matter.

The Democratic-controlled chamber invoked Rule 14 to limit debate on Saturday. The rule allows for debate to be stopped an hour after a motion to end debate is made and after an affirmative vote of a majority of members. 

House Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, and Majority Leader Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, issued a statement on the Republicans' efforts to block the legislation.

“We take seriously the importance of our democratic process and of authentically engaging with the minority party on bills,” the statement said. “At the end of the day, the smallest minority in 60 years does not have the right to stop votes on legislation that the vast majority of Coloradans desperately want to see passed.”

“The rules of the institution exist to respect the will of the voters,” McCluskie and Duran added. “To allow unprecedented obstruction at this scale from a small group of minority party members puts our democracy at risk, and we will not allow that. Too much is at stake.”

Republicans stated they didn’t get an opportunity to adequately defend Second Amendment rights.

“We were elected by our constituents to defend their rights and create a better Colorado,” Colorado House Republicans posted on social media.

“When you stop the other side from discussing issues, it becomes about politics not policy,” Rep. Gabe Evans, R-Fort Lupton, was quoted as saying by Colorado House Republicans on social media.

A rare Sunday session was held four days after two Denver East High School administrators were shot while patting down a student. A 17-year-old suspect was found dead from suicide in a nearby county after the incident. Colorado teachers and students held rallies at the state Capitol and throughout Denver demanding stronger measures.

Sunday, the House passed Senate Bill 23-169 to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 years of age. Currently, individuals must be 21 to purchase a handgun, but only 18 to purchase long guns. The bill includes exceptions for those 18 to 21 who purchase a firearm who are on-duty peace officers or active military members.

The House also passed Senate Bill 23-168 on Sunday to remove Colorado’s immunity protections for gun sellers and manufacturers and allow lawsuits against the industry. Saturday, Senate Bill 23-170, legislation to expand the state’s “red flag” law was passed. The legislation expands the list of individuals eligible to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order to include district attorneys and other law enforcement officials, licensed health care providers, mental health professionals and educators.

The House Judiciary Committee is set to hear a bill proposing a ban on so-called assault weapons this week. The Senate will also consider legislation to institute a "waiting period" for firearm purchases.