House candidates discuss gun control |

House candidates discuss gun control

EAGLE COUNTY — The candidates for House District 26, which is made up of Eagle and Routt counties, have markedly different views about four gun-control laws passed in 2013 by the Colorado Legislature. Incumbent Diane Mitsch Bush voted for three of those bills.

Chuck McConnell:

The gun-control laws passed in 2013 by the Colorado Legislature did nothing to reduce gun violence. Fifty-four Colorado county sheriffs representing both political parties opposed these new laws. As the top law enforcement officers in our counties, sheriffs have an interest in supporting any action that would reduce crime. They clearly did not believe these new laws would help. These unenforceable 2013 gun-control laws appear very much to have been passed only for political purposes.

Criminals who commit major crimes in Colorado pay no attention to the law. The arbitrary restriction on magazine size means nothing to them. Magazines with capacities from 16 to 30 rounds can be easily obtained by criminals locally or from surrounding states.

The burden and expense the gun-control bills place on law-abiding citizens is unacceptable. These laws require a criminal background check when, for example, a person with no criminal record wishes to sell or give a gun to a friend who has no record. With the new laws, these two people have to go to a licensed gun dealer to perform the checks. Many dealers are reluctant to participate in these transactions because of anxiety over potential liability. Some of our law-abiding citizens who need a gun for home defense may not go to the trouble to obtain one from a friend.

One thing is certain: Criminals who give or sell guns to other criminals will not submit to a background check. The magazine size and background check laws do not change the behavior of criminals who commit crimes, but they can have a negative impact on law-abiding citizen's ability to protect themselves and their families.

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For the sake of our law-abiding citizens and their constitutional right to defend their life and the lives of their families, the next legislature must give serious consideration to repealing these laws.

Diane Mitsch Bush: Balancing Second Amendment rights to self-defense with other Constitutional rights, including our inherent right to public safety and justice, has long been at the heart of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on guns. In Heller v. D.C. (2008), the court ruled a handgun ban in D.C. unconstitutional, yet stated, "like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited" and firearms restrictions to protect public safety are "presumptively permissible."

The private transfer background check law improves public safety for law-abiding citizens by keeping guns out of the hands of violent felons. Colorado Bureau of Investigation data show 189 private-sale denials for felons in 2014 through August: Sexual assault, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, larceny and convicted domestic violence offenders with outstanding restraining orders were prevented from obtaining firearms.

Research findings and discussions with local law enforcement show that domestic abusers are especially prone to try to get a gun quickly and use it impulsively. Police chiefs, domestic violence prevention advocates and my first husband, a police officer in Minnesota before we moved out here in the mid 1970s, all agree that domestic abusers should not have guns; when armed they pose a threat to the survivors of their violence, children, innocent bystanders and to law enforcement officers.

Law-abiding citizens, businesses and law enforcement officers should not be exposed to armed attacks by felons able to readily buy firearms in private transactions. Clearly this law will not prevent all criminals from obtaining guns on the black market. CBI data show that 189 felons were prevented from readily buying firearms, thereby potentially preventing injuries and deaths.

I stand by my votes. The majority of my constituents asked me to vote for gun safety. I will continue to work with gun rights and gun safety advocates to reduce gun violence.