First test for gun bills

DENVER - Democrats will see the first test of their gun-control bills today and later this week.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear bills this morning to prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets and to require background checks for gun sales between private parties.

Rep. Mike McLachlan, a freshman Democrat from Durango, will be in the spotlight as a potential swing vote on the bills.

"I think it's still very much in flux," McLachlan said. "I think we're pretty much still a House divided and a House in debate."

McLachlan had previously said he might support the background check bill, but he said Monday morning that he is leaning against the limit on ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds.

But he said he's open to rewriting the bill.

"Maybe some reasonable limit can be reached," McLachlan said, specifying a number less than 30 as a good limit for magazine sizes.

Republicans oppose the bills. Democrats have a 7-4 majority on the Judiciary committee, so sponsors can lose one vote and still have their bills advance.

But today's action is only part of the lineup this week.

On Wednesday morning, the House Education Committee will hear a bill to ban concealed weapons on most areas of college campuses.

Later Wednesday, the House Finance Committee will decide whether people who buy guns should pay for their own background checks. A surge in gun purchases has led to a long backlog in the state's background check system.

The most controversial gun bill has not yet been introduced. Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, wants to impose legal liability on anyone associated with making, shipping, selling or buying an assault weapon if the gun is ever used to hurt people.