Colorado legislature makes moves on more gun control -- with a little extra push from Biden

After a marathon session of debate on Friday, Colorado lawmakers got two steps closer to passing a couple of new state-wide gun restrictions, including background checks on private gun sales and placing capacity limits on ammunition magazines. The NYT reports:

After hours of debate that lasted well into the evening, Colorado’s House of Representatives gave initial approval to legislation requiring background checks on private gun sales and placing limits on ammunition magazines — measures that were being watched nationally by advocates on both sides of the issue. …

“All this bill does is make us law-abiding citizens go through another hoop,” said State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg, a Republican from Sterling. “It doesn’t stop criminals, those that can’t get background checks, those that are felons, from breaking into my house and stealing my guns. Doesn’t stop them from meeting a guy down the street and buying a gun there.”

But with Democrats holding a majority in the House, both bills received preliminary approval. The bills must receive a final House vote, which could come as early as Monday, before heading to the State Senate, where Democrats also outnumber Republicans.

Funnily enough, those happen to be some of the exact sorts of ideas currently being pushed by the White House — which probably explained why the vice president made a few calls to more moderate Democratic Colorado legislators facing the politically difficult vote, just to give ’em a little nudge in the White House’s preferred direction. Biden happened to be vacationing in nearby Aspen, and took it upon himself to communicate just how helpful it would be for the national narrative the Obama administration is trying to push if state legislatures really got behind the ideas on their own. The Washington Times reports:

Mr. Biden, who was vacationing Friday in Aspen, called a handful of Democratic legislators from swing districts to urge them to support the proposals, which included universal background checks for gun transfers and a 15-round limit on ammunition magazines.

“I was totally surprised,” Democratic state Rep. Tony Exum of Colorado Springs told Fox affiliate KDVR-TV. “He [Mr. Biden] just said he’s watching us and asked if we had a chance to move these bills forward and said what an important signal it would send to the country if we do.”

Really, it would just be so accommodating of Colorado if they could help provide political ammunition with which the White House could bolster their own gun-control messaging and agenda, you know. A Western swing state supporting their own versions of Obama’s proposals would make for some mighty convenient political cover — even if it does mean possible trouble for some of those state Democrats come the next election time, seeing as how the state House just went from Republican to Democratic control last November:

Though it took lawmakers more than five fours to debate the first bill, the magazine measure, Republicans weren’t looking at their watches — but at the 2014 calendar.

They predict Democrats in swing districts who vote for the gun bills are going to be in big trouble back home.

“I think it’s going to produce incredible results for us in 2014,” said Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument.