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Colorado’s attempt to ban assault weapons fails

POSTED May 4, 2023

A recent attempt to ban assault weapons in Colorado failed with a 7-6 vote after a 14 hour debate on April 20th. Republicans unanimously voted against it and the bill partially divided Democrats, as three Democrats voted against the bill. A Democratic Rep. from Denver backed the bill and stated that she believed they had the support to at least get it amended. The bill would have banned the sale of assault style weapons. 

State Rep. Elizabeth Epps proposed two amendments in an attempt to gain support after it was clear the original bill would not pass. The first amendment would have banned the sale of rapid-fire triggers and bump stocks. The other option was to just ban the sale of bump stocks. Amending the bill in this way would have stripped the bill of its original goal, but it still ultimately wasn’t enough. Due to the Democrat control of the campaign, Epps believed and hoped it had the support to pass the House Judiciary committee.

Rep. Mark Snyder, Bob Marshall, and Said Sharbini were the three Democrats who voted no. Snyder and Marshall made a promise while campaigning that they would not vote for any bills that take away citizens’ guns and gun rights.

Over 500 people signed up to testify at the proposal’s first hearing, most of them in opposition to the ban. One of the first testimonies came from Austin Hein, from the National Association of Gun Rights. He stated that nothing in the bills will “address the root cause of the mental health, overly medicated children in fatherless homes and gun-free zones that are plaguing our state.” He closed with a comment that the ban on the semi-automatic ban “will leave law-abiding citizens defenseless to the alarming rise of violent crime caused by the progressive criminal justice reform.”

Many people also spoke on their experiences with gun violence and how the bill would affect them. One of the first testimonies in agreement with the ban was by a senior at East High School in Denver. Patrick Pethybridge stated that his motivation to testify came from the violence happening lately at his school. In the beginning of the year, a 16-year-old student was shot outside of the school. A few weeks later, a 17-year-old shot and injured two administrators before fleeing and taking his own life. Pethybridge stated that the recent events have tainted his journey and the most important part of his high school years.

Democrats in Colorado currently have other bills waiting to be signed by the governor. They include:

  1. Imposing a waiting period of 3 days between buying a firearm and gaining access to it
  2. Raising the minimum purchasing age to 21
  3. Expanding the red-flag law that allows for the state to temporarily possess the firearms of people considered to be a risk to themselves or others

Certain states such as California, Hawaii, and New York have restricted or banned assault weapons in response to events like this. 

Colorado is one of the states that has the most gun violence. In the last three decades, Colorado has had 10 active shooting occurrences with at least 3 fatalities in each one. The most recent happened at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs. A gunman killed five people using a semiautomatic firearm.


Bill that would have banned sale of so-called assault weapons in Colorado is rejected, even after attempt to dramatically strip it down


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