The bills, one prohibiting gun purchases to individuals with a violent misdemeanor in the last five years, do not have any Republican support.
At a town hall in Steamboat Springs last month, Rep. Joe Neguse asked the crowd to raise their hands if they support more gun violence prevention legislation.
Almost everyone in the crowd did — it was a seemingly friendly audience to the Democrat in his first visit to the western limits of his recently enlarged district. Still, some hands did not raise.
“Here is the test to me,” Neguse then said. “Can we find meaningful ways to talk to each other, including those who might disagree with us or have a different worldview when it comes to this particular issue and try to find common ground?”
Neguse said that he has long been a gun violence advocate and talked about legislation he was going to introduce that would limit the sale of guns to someone that has been convicted of a violent misdemeanor. Had that already been illegal, Neguse said the murderer who gunned down 10 people in a Boulder King Soopers just over two years ago would not have been able to acquire that weapon.
“[The shooter] would not have been able to acquire that weapon if we had a background check system in place at the federal level that would disenable someone who has a violent misdemeanor on their record within five years,” Neguse said. “Most people I speak to, even those who say I disagree with you on some of the other gun violence measures that you want to enact, but this one, it makes sense.”
Neguse introduced a package of gun violence prevention-focused legislation last week including one bill that would prevent gun sales to people with a violent misdemeanor on their record in the last five years. This is already the case in Colorado, 21 other states and the District of Columbia.
The package includes three bills, all of them sponsored only by Democrats. The House of Representatives is currently controlled by Republicans, so the legislation likely won’t advance beyond introduction. Even with Democratic control in the last congress, similar measures instituted by Neguse didn’t advance.
In 2021 the House did pass legislation that would have required background checks for private gun sales, but it did not get a vote in the Senate. Federally licensed sellers are already required to conduct background checks.
Another measure included Neguse’s package would add state-specific age requirements to the federal background check system, so if an individual isn’t old enough to buy a gun in one state but is in another, they couldn’t simply travel to get a gun. The idea stems from a 2019 incident where 18-year-old women from Florida traveled to Colorado to obtain a gun and then threatened violence at Denver-area schools.
The third piece of legislation would expand funding for the Department of Justice to offer grants to places where people assemble in public to add preventative security measures.
“This bill would allow local governments to use grant funding to provide compensation, training and technical assistance for public facilities that wish to implement security measures against mass shooters,” an explanation of the bill from Neguse reads.
At the Steamboat Springs town hall, Neguse said he had hoped to find a Republican cosponsor for some of his gun violence legislation, but had so far been unable.
“If I can find one, I know I can build on that,” Neguse said.