Republicans Reload in Gun Rights Fight

Denver -- Senate Republicans moved on Wednesday to reverse one notorious gun rights restriction approved by Democrats during a period of one party rule, while extending new rights by allowing active or honorably discharged military personnel between 18 and 21 years of age to carry a concealed firearm if they get a permit. 

Both measures passed the Senate State Affairs committee on party line votes, with Democrats refusing to budge from their anti-gun positions.

Senate Bill 144 allows someone between 18 and 21 years of age to obtain a concealed handgun permit if they are on active duty in any branch of the U.S. military or the National Guard, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military. Senator and former Weld County Sherriff John Cooke dubbed the bill "Lizzie's Law," after his 19-year old stepdaughter, who can carry a weapon as a soldier but becomes ineligible for a concealed carry permit when she's home on leave.

"If we allow those 18 years of age to serve and defend the country, it only makes sense to allow them to utilize their training and defend themselves with a concealed weapon," Cooke said, in explaining the bill. "Some argue that 18 year olds lack the mental capacity or maturity to responsibly carry concealed; if that is the case, we should consider raising the enlistment age."

Also heard by State Affairs Wednesday was Senate Bill 113, sponsored by Senator Vicki Marble, which seeks to repeal an onerous and unenforceable magazine limit passed when Democrats held total control of the General Assembly in 2013. That law, which resulted in the recall of two senators and the resignation of another, banned the sale, transfer or possession of either a fixed or detachable magazine capable of holding more than 15 rounds.

Backers of the 2013 bill went astray, said Marble, by focusing too narrowly on technology, rather than criminality. "Until we focus on the perpetrator or criminal who is intent on inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible on innocent people, we will never solve the issue of gun violence," said Marble. "It takes a person to commit a crime, not an object."

Both measures passed the committee on party-line votes and now move to the Senate floor for action. 

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