Colorado legislators are weighing a new bill to raise the age limit for purchasing firearms to 21 in a state that’s been home to some of the most notorious mass shootings in United States history.
Colorado’s state Senate is currently reviewing a package of gun-safety bills, including one measure that would limit all firearm purchases and possession — including shotguns and rifles— to people 21 and older.
The state’s current law allows people as young as 18 to buy firearms.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kyle Mullica and Jessie Danielson, already includes some exemptions, such as allowing gun use for people between 18 and 21 in the military or in law enforcement.
During a Senate hearing on the bill Wednesday, residents backing the measure testified that mass shootings are increasingly being carried people under 21, including at Columbine High School in 1999 and the 2019 shooting at STEM School in Highlands Ranch.
Tom Mauser, whose son, Daniel, was murdered at Columbine, pointed out that an 18-year-old purchased four long guns for the killers at the local gun show.
One shooter turned 18 just 11 days before the massacre, he added, according to Colorado Politics.
However, others testified that the state offers a hunter education course and certificate for youths as young as 10 — and that the bill would prohibit their participation.
Wes Mendez of the Colorado Bowhunting Association and his son, Griffin, 11, a fifth-grader at Eldorado Elementary in Highlands Ranch, testified in favor of amending the bill to allow for kids to continue participating in that program.
Griffin said he’s registered to take his course next month and is concerned the pols will shoot down that opportunity.
Others also testified that young people between 18 and 21 often work on their family farms and ranches and that firearms are sometimes needed to ward off predators.
Mullica told ColoradoPolitics.com he plans to rewrite the bill to address some of the issues raised at the hearing, including adding an exemption warding off wildlife predators and allowing for kids like Griffin to take hunting courses.
However, the new exemptions would only allow for possession of firearms — and not for purchase.
The bill was introduced in February, less than four months after five people were shot dead and 20 others injured during a mass shooting inside an LGBTQ nightclub, known as Club Q, in Colorado Springs.
The accused shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was 22 at the time of the incident.