Colorado Democrat quickly backs off gun bill
DENVER (AP) — A Colorado Democrat who wanted to prevent individuals suspected of posing a threat from possessing a gun quickly backed off that plan after details of the proposal became public late Thursday.
Rep. Beth McCann said she's still working on a bill dealing with firearm restrictions for people believed to be a danger, but it's unclear when it could be introduced or what it would look like.
She said she made a mistake by releasing a draft of the bill.
"It was totally my responsibility for getting it out there," she said just hours after circulating the proposal that was scrapped.
That plan would have allowed psychologists, nurses and counselors to enter a person into the national background check system, prohibiting that individual from legally possessing a firearm for a year.
The NRA immediately called it the "most unconstitutional" legislation of the session.
Limits on ammunition magazines and required background checks on all gun sales already have been signed into law this year in Colorado.
After the details of McCann's initial proposal became public, she said the opportunity arose to work with Republicans on a new bill that she hopes she can get bipartisan support.
Dave Kopel, a law professor and research director at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank in Denver, said McCann's earlier bill raised concerns about due process rights.
"I think even if there were no Second Amendment, or right to arms, there would be significant problems here," he said.
He said the bill could be "a really good idea" if it was significantly revised to include "a fair hearing first with the burden of proof on the government."
Only hours before McCann abandoned her bill, she insisted it was not about infringing on constitutional rights to bear arms. She also said affected people would be able to petition a court to reserve the order.
The details of McCann's proposal came just as newly released court documents showed that James Holmes, suspected in the suburban Denver movie theater shooting rampage, had expressed homicidal thoughts, according to a university psychiatrist who briefly treated him.
Dr. Lynne Fenton, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado, Denver, told police in June that Holmes also threatened and intimidated her.
It was more than a month before the July 20 attack at a movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70.