Colorado becomes testing ground for gun reform in the West |

Colorado becomes testing ground for gun reform in the West

'Colorado is in a position to really be an example, at least for this half of the country, the middle part of the country, of where some of our boundaries can be,' state Rep. Jennifer Bacon said.

Seth Klamann and Nick Coltrain
The Denver Post
Dalia Gutierrez, 15, of South High School attends the “Show Up to End Gun Violence” rally with her mother, also DPS teacher, Clea Stiebel at the Colorado Capitol in Denver on Friday, March 24, 2023. Hundreds of Colorado educators and students demanded that elected leaders take action to keep schools safe.
Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Colorado lawmakers’ latest suite of gun reform bills bolster the state’s position at the vanguard of the national firearm debate, advocates and critics say, while marking it as a proving ground for how step-by-step reforms can coexist within the West’s distinct regional identity.

As Colorado has turned deeper shades of blue over the past five years, it’s simultaneously become a regional and national leader in reforming its gun laws, lawmakers and activists said. The grip that Democrats have on state government has signaled to national gun reform groups, like Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, that they can pass legislation here.

In a libertarian, otherwise conservative region, Colorado’s changing political culture and success in advancing gun reform is either proof of concept for like-minded legislators or a warning to wary neighbors.

Amid growing Capitol protests by students affected directly by gun violence, the Colorado House and Senate are poised to pass bills to raise the age limit to purchase firearms; institute a waiting period; make it easier to sue gun manufacturers; and expand the state’s red-flag law.

Colorado, said Denver Democratic Rep. Jennifer Bacon, is still a Western state, with a distinct rural identity alongside growing urban centers, flush with (often more progressive) out-of-state transplants. But Democratic legislators here are showing that those two identities can exist, she said, while passing gun reform.


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