Hickenlooper leads panel on gun violence

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DENVER (AP) -- Guns are a part of Colorado's heritage, but the state should also be at the forefront of efforts to curb gun violence.

That's how Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper introduced a panel on gun violence Tuesday night in Denver.

Panelists included Colorado Senate President John Morse and state Rep. Rhonda Fields, both of whom are proposing bills to limit access to firearms during this year's legislative session.

Others on the panel Tuesday evening included Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and Republican Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. Lamborn and Buck oppose gun-control measures backed by Fields and Morse.

Colorado lawmakers are considering several bills dealing with guns, including limiting the size of ammunition magazines and requiring background checks for private gun sales.

Hickenlooper says more than a third of Coloradans own at least one firearm.

But, "At the same time, two of the worst shootings in history have taken place in Colorado," he said Tuesday during a panel on gun violence, referring to the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School and last summer's movie theater shooting in Aurora.

Hickenlooper has called for expanded background checks, a measure that's cleared the state House and awaits a Senate vote.

Citing recent mass shootings, Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn argued that, "if some of these laws were in effect, it would've made no difference, unfortunately."

Hickenlooper was battling a cough and weighed in infrequently, but he did spar with Republican Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who argued that criminals wouldn't be screened by expanded background checks.

The governor argued, "It doesn't catch all the crooks, but it catches the dumb ones."

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