DENVER - Denver's District Attorney has something in common with the group of vocal pro-gun demonstrators who surrounded the state capitol this week: They have pretty low opinions of the gun-control bills being advanced by Democrats in the legislature.
"As far as what they're doing, I'm kind of concerned because I think it's almost like window dressing," Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, a Democrat, said. "I think that this is an opportunity in our society to really make an impact [on gun violence,] and I don't think they're addressing those things."
Morrissey doesn't have a problem with all of the ideas in the package of gun bills. For instance, he likes the idea of coming down harder on domestic-violence suspects caught with guns. On that bill, though, he has a problem with the penalty.
"It's a class-two misdemeanor," Morrissey said. "They're talking about people getting killed in those situations. It should be serious."
Denver's lead prosecutor has his own gun-control ideas, which were rejected by legislative leaders. His first suggestion was to impose a tougher class of felony against ex-cons caught with weapons.
"What we see a lot in Denver is those individuals getting put right back on probation," Morrissey said.
A tougher class of penalty could force mandatory prison time for felons caught with guns. Another idea deals with jurisdiction. In a recent case, Morrissey says he partnered with other agencies to track down where a pair of felons obtained a cache of weapons.
"We looked we found none of those guns were sold in Denver," Morrissey said. "So I have no jurisdiction to do anything about it, and the legislature could easily fix that."
The idea would be to make it easier to punish people who illegally sell guns to felons. Morrissey thinks these ideas would be uncontroversial politically and says the only objection he heard from any lawmakers was "that it would have a cost."
"That would be inconsistent with all the bills they're running now because they're all misdemeanors, so there's no state cost," Morrissey said.
Misdemeanors involve sentences in local jails, whereas felonies are punished with state prison time. The financial burden follows suit.
"I think serious gun control is going to require some cost," Morrissey said.
Pressed to address circumstances around recent mass shooting incidents which didn't involve felons, Morrissey said he would like to see some form of basic mental-health screening included in background checks for gun sales.
9NEWS has reached out to legislative leaders from both parties in both chambers for comment. None could recall serious conversations about Morrissey's proposals.
Morrissey's office says he floated the ideas during conversations about other policies, so it's unclear how serious of a lobbying effort he put forward.
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