Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three restrictive gun control bills into law today. Colorado becomes the second state after New York to pass new gun laws presumably in response to the massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT in December.
The first of these expands background checks on gun purchases to include online sales. The second restricts ammunition magazine capacity to fifteen rounds. The last law passes the costs of the background checks onto gun buyers.
"Today is a great day as we sign important measures to improve the public safety of Colorado," said one of the bill's sponsor Rhonda Fields told NBC News. "There was a need to do something."
The desire for lawmakers to "do something"after Sandy Hook provided NY Governor Andrew Cuomo the motivation to pass the controversial New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013.
New York's law is seen by opponents as even more restrictive than Colorado's. It limits magazine size to seven rounds, requires renewals on pistol permits every five years and the registration of all weapons starting next year. The SAFE Act also will make NY gun owner's personal information publicly available unless the gun owner requests to keep it private.
Governor Cuomo's law has proven unpopular statewide with 54 of 62 county legislatures passing resolutions in opposition. The law is also facing several lawsuits including a suit to be filed on Thursday by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Another suit against the law was heard by the NY Supreme Court on Mar 13. The plaintiffs, the group called We the People of NY, failed to get an injunction against the law. The case now moves the NY Appellate Court with opening arguments to be heard on Friday.
The laws in both Colorado and New York may come to haunt Hickenlooper and Cuomo in the next election.
Quinnipiac University poll finds 55% of Republican voters disapprove of Cuomo, with 27% approving of his job performance. In December, 74% of Republicans approved of Cuomo’s performance.
“We’re all in shock here,” Colorado state Senator Greg Brophy, a Republican, said on Wednesday. “It turns out this guy who everybody thought was a moderate Democrat is actually a gun-control governor.”
“I think the governor will be replaced by someone who has Colorado values instead of New York City values,” Brophy said. “If Republicans are returned to control we will repeal these bills immediately.”
Gun control legislation is being considered at the federal level as well.
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein drafted an assault weapons ban that specifically prohibited 157 types and brands of semi-automatic firearms.
After several heated debates in the senate her bill was passed by the judiciary committee. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the measure before it could be voted on by the full senate.
Senator Reid said he pulled Feinstein's ban because he didn't have the votes to get it passed. He feared that with her assault weapons ban, he wouldn't be able to pass other, less contentious gun control measures that he is trying to push through.
Senator Feinstein vowed to continue the fight to get the bill passed. “This is very important to me and I’m not going to lay (sic) down and play dead" she told reporters today. "I think the American people have said in every single public poll that they support this kind of legislation.”
Polls actually show that most Americans do not support bans on assault weapons. A USA Today/Gallup poll showed 52 percent of those polled were against a ban, while only 44 percent supported it. At the end of January 2013, a Reason-Rupe poll showed the exact same results. And the Reason-Rupe poll also showed that the youth vote was against an assault-weapons ban; 70 percent of 18-24 year-olds and 58 percent of 25-34 year-olds said “assault weapons should be allowed.”