Legislation & Lobbying

Colorado Has 'Middle of the Road' Gun Laws; Would Assault Weapons Ban Have Helped?

Police believe the an assault rifle and other weapons used in the shooting spree at a Colorado movie theater early Friday were purchased legally, even though the state adopted additional restrictions after the mass shootings at Columbine High School.

Colorado’s gun laws are viewed as “middle of the road,” the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The New York Times also has a story on the legislation.

On the one hand, the state passed new laws after Columbine requiring background checks for those purchasing weapons at gun shows and banning straw purchases of guns for those who aren’t permitted to own them, the stories say. On the other hand, Colorado allows people to carry guns in vehicles and to carry concealed weapons, provided they meet the requirements.

Holmes may have been barred from purchasing his AR-15 assault rifle if a federal assault weapons ban were still in effect, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports in a separate story. The ban, passed in 1994, expired in 2004 and was never reinstated. The law had barred automatic guns with specific features, but some stripped-down versions of the AR-15 were still sold during the ban, the story says.

A law enforcement source tells CNN and the Associated Press that the suspect’s AR-15 jammed during the shooting spree, forcing him to switch to another gun and possibly saving some lives.

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