More than 100 gun control supporters rallied on the Capitol steps for tougher gun legislation as Republicans inside argued that schools would be safer if it was legal for employees to carry concealed weapons.
Welcome to Colorado's gun debate. Some people would like to see Colorado ban assault weapons, limit ammunition and expand background checks as ways to reduce gun violence.
"I don't think it's difficult to ask that we have universal background checks, that we take these weapons of war off the streets," Dave Hoover, uncle of Aurora theater shooting victim AJ Boik, said at the rally.
The proposals were expected to be made by House Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, an Aurora Democrat and an outspoken supporter of gun control.
"Military-style assault weapons are not needed in our neighborhoods. They need to be on the battlefield," said Fields, whose son was shot and killed in 2005. "I am sick and tired of the bloodshed."
Republicans were pitching a different path to safety, arguing for a proposal to allow school employees to carry concealed weapons. But as expected, that bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Another Republican gun bill that would require armed security in businesses that don't allow patrons to carry concealed weapons faced similar odds later in the week.
Senate President John Morse, a Democrat and former police chief, told reporters he's conflicted about which gun measures could work. Morse has said he supports an assault-weapons ban, but he told reporters he is still searching for the right approach to curb gun violence.
"I don't see a magical solution," Morse said.
Morse did dismiss GOP efforts so far.
"When you add guns, you're going to add shootings," Morse said.
Governor Hickenlooper called for universal background checks in his State of the State address. But he didn't mention assault weapons or high capacity magazines.
Democrats are hoping to come up with a package of gun bills that the governor might support and that will have enough votes to pass.
That means the moderate Democrats in the legislature are going to get a big say in how far we go on gun control.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)