In shift, Colorado chamber OKs gun control bills

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Associated Press

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 19 at 9:03 AM

DENVER (AP) — Lawmakers in Colorado, where a gunman burst into a theater last year for a deadly shooting, narrowly passed a handful of gun control bills, signaling a political shift under pressure from the White House.

"Enough is enough. I'm sick and tired of bloodshed," said Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, who sponsored a state bill limiting the size of ammunition magazines. Fields, whose son was fatally shot in 2005, represents the district where the theater gunman opened fire.

Vice President Joe Biden called some lawmakers personally before the vote. Democratic Rep. Dominick Moreno said the vice president "emphasized the importance of Colorado's role in shaping national policy around this issue."

While the issue of gun control faces a difficult time in the U.S. Congress amid opposition from most Republicans and even some of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats, some states are moving ahead with their own measures. New York state earlier this year passed some of the strictest gun control measures in the country.

Monday's vote in Colorado is part of a larger shift in the U.S. West's politics to the left, including the legalization of marijuana last year in Colorado and Washington state. Washington also upheld the legality of gay marriage in November.

The Colorado gun control measures go next to the state Senate, where they'll need even more support against opposition from many Republicans.

The state's Democratic-controlled House approved bills on ammunition restrictions; background checks on all gun purchases, including those between private sellers and firearms bought online; a ban on concealed firearms at colleges and stadiums; and a requirement that gun purchasers pay for their own background checks. The ammunition restrictions measure would limit magazines to 15 rounds for firearms, and eight for shotguns.

Republicans argued that the proposals restrict the right to bear firearms guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, and that they won't prevent mass shootings like the ones in Colorado and December's attack at a Connecticut school.

"This bill will never keep evil people from doing evil things," said Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Republicans also said students should have the right to defend themselves.

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Associated Press writer Ivan Moreno contributed.

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