Is Colorado an Anti-Gun Bellwether?

Colorado will become the seventh state to impose magazine capacity limits and the 14th to mandate universal background checks for all firearms sales when Gov. John Hickenlooper signs four gun control bills approved after contentious debate into law.

The legislation will ban ammunition magazines that can carry more than 15 rounds and eight shotgun shells; require background checks for all sales and transfers between private parties and online purchases; require firearm buyers to pay for their own background checks; and ban online certification for concealed-carry permits.

The Democratic-led victory in imposing some of the nation's most strict gun control laws in Colorado, where gun ownership is relatively common, is being regarded as a significant political bellwether across the nation.

According to John Mountjoy, Director of Policy and Research and Strategic Initiatives for the Council of State Governments, during the 2013 legislative session, so-called "assault weapons" bans have been introduced in 18 state legislatures, bills seeking restrictions on firearm magazine capacities are being reviewed in 20 legislatures and lawmakers in 21 states have pending legislation that requires enhanced background checks for all firearms purchases.

* "Assault weapons" bans:
-- Seven already have "assault weapons" bans: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts. All but Massachusetts enhanced them this year.

-- "Assault weapons" ban bills have been introduced in 12 states: Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington.

* Magazine capacity limits:
-- Six states and D.C. have some form of magazine capacity restriction, be it all firearms, just "assault weapons," just handguns or some combination: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Colorado becomes the seventh state to impose a mag cap on July 1.

-- Bills to impose various magazine capacity restrictions have been introduced in 15 state legislatures: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia.

* Universal background checks:
-- Thirteen states and DC either require an enhanced background check and/or permit before purchasing any firearm (others impose this requirement only for handgun purchases). Colorado becomes the 14th state to require background checks for all firearms transactions.

-- Legislation seeking to implement an enhanced background check for all or certain types of firearms buyers has been introduced in 12 states.

The Colorado laws, which become effective on July 1, are bitterly opposed by state gun owners. Democrats and Hickenlooper will suffer political repercussions for being "out of touch" with their constituents, vowed Republican House minority leader Mark Waller.

"More than 200,000 Coloradans are out of work but Democrats are more concerned with passing legislation that will send hundreds of jobs out of our state without any increase in public safety to show for it," Waller said in a statement.

Waller was referring to Magpul, a Colorado-based manufacturer of ammunition magazines that has vowed to leave the state and take away its hundreds of jobs if the magazine-limits bill becomes law.

The Basic Freedom Defense Fund, a conservative group based in Durango, has launched recall petition drives against State Senate President John Morse (D, Colorado Springs) and Senator Edie Hudak (D, Denver) and Rep. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango).

"In what may be a warning to other state legislators across the country and even members of Congress acting on similar legislation," the BFDF said it was forming committees statewide to look into recalling other legislators who supported the gun control package.

At least one Colorado sheriff said on March 18 that he would not enforce the four gun control laws.

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said Democratic lawmakers are scrambling after recent mass shootings and the bills are ''feel-good, knee-jerk reactions that are unenforceable.''