Sara Wilson

(Colorado Newsline) Two progressive Denver Democrats are backing an effort to ban the purchase and transfer of semi-automatic weapons in Colorado, a second attempt after a similar bill died in committee last year.

Reps. Elisabeth Epps and Tim Hernández are the prime sponsors of House Bill 24-1292, which was introduced Tuesday. Epps also sponsored last year’s version. As introduced, the bill has 14 other House Democrats signed on as sponsors.

“Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are disproportionately used in public mass shootings, and the reasons are both obvious and irrefutable. Assault weapons are uniquely lethal by design. They entail tactical features designed for warfare, refined to maximize killing large numbers of people quickly and efficiently,” the bill’s legislative declaration reads.

The bill would prohibit the manufacture, sale, import, transfer and purchase of many semi-automatic weapons. It would define “assault weapon” as a semi-automatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has at least one of the following characteristics: a pistol grip, a folding or detachable stock to help conceal the weapon, a muzzle brake, a grenade launcher, a shroud on the barrel that lets the user hold it with their non-trigger hand and not get burned, or a threaded barrel. The bill includes a page and a half of specific examples of would-be banned weapons, including ​​AK-47s and all AKs, AR-15s and all ARs, and all Thompson rifles.

It would also ban the sale and purchase of certain .50 caliber rifles, semi-automatic pistols and semi-automatic shotguns.

Additionally, the bill would ban the possession of trigger activators that greatly increase the rate of fire.

It includes exemptions for members of the military and police officers. Gun dealers who still have an inventory of the defined assault weapons by August could sell them to a non-Colorado resident if the transfer takes place out of state.

People who already own these types of firearms would be allowed to keep them.

Committee composition changed

The bill was once again assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, where it was rejected last year. The makeup of the committee is slightly different this year — Democratic Rep. Bob Marshall of Highlands Ranch and former Democratic Rep. Said Sharbini of Thornton, who voted against it last year, are gone from the committee. Epps is also off the committee, but two of the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Javier Mabrey of Denver and Judy Amabile of Boulder, were assigned to the committee ahead of this year’s lawmaking term.

It does not yet have a hearing date.

Ten states and Washington, D.C., have some sort of assault weapon ban, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Virginia’s Democratic-controlled Legislature recently passed an assault weapons ban similar to the Colorado bill, but its future is uncertain as it lands on Republican Gov. Glen Youngkin’s desk.

Democrats enjoy large majorities in both chambers of the Colorado Legislature.

State lawmakers are considering other firearm-related bills this session, though the assault weapons prohibition could become the most contentious. That includes a bill to revise the instruction requirements for concealed carry permits and one that would prohibit guns in a set of public places deemed sensitive.