Taking advantage of deadly mass shootings last year, Colorado lawmakers unveiled a package of bills Tuesday that would put owners and manufacturers of assault-style weapons on the chopping block. Democrats in Colorado, a state jolted by some of the fatal shootings, are seeking to make this group legally liable for any crime that involves a specific firearm.
While other states such as New York have pushed bans on military-style guns, Colorado would hold gun makers and sellers accountable for weapon violence if the bills become law. Owners of semi-automatic rifles would face strict liability for civil damages caused by their types of weapons, while state statutes that safeguard manufacturers and dealers from such liability would be abolished. Handguns, shotguns, and bolt-action rifles would be immune from the proposed law.
Specifically, one proposal would restrict the sale and ownership of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds; another proposal seeks to enact more stringent background checks on weapon purchases, including sales between private owners.
Republicans and gun-rights advocates say the new liability standards translate largely into an assault-weapons ban. “By holding the manufacturers liable, they effectively ban the sale,” asserted Dudley Brown, the head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. “We really don’t care what happens in this building; how many Gucci-loafered lobbyists come up and talk to politicians. We are going to go into their districts and tell gun owners, ‘This is what politicians are doing to your Second Amendment rights.’”
Brown argued that the bill would be equivalent to holding Corvette liable for accidents caused by speeding. Further, Republican Sen. Greg Brophy likened the bill to “holding Coors responsible for drunk driving.”
“Retailers will be afraid to sell these weapons because they won’t be able to purchase an insurance policy to cover their strict liability — that’s the highest standard,” Brophy explained. “So it effectively bans the sale of all semiautomatic rifles in the state of Colorado.”
Other critics contend that Colorado’s attack on assault weapons amounts to little more than an emotional response to the deadly mass shootings. But besides the constitutional violations regarding such bans, gun-control proponents omit the fact that assault weapons were tied to less than .012 percent of overall deaths in the United States in recent years.
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