March 15, 2013 / 10:20 PM / in 5 years

Colorado lawmakers pass universal gun purchase background checks

DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado lawmakers passed a bill on Friday to mandate universal background checks for all gun buyers in a state that has experienced two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, a spokesman for majority Colorado House Democrats said.

The measure passed after months of debate on gun control in Colorado, and came after legislators approved four other gun control measures on Wednesday.

The legislation now awaits the signature of Governor John Hickenlooper for final approval. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has indicated he supports universal background checks for gun buyers.

It was approved by both chambers of the Democrat-controlled Colorado legislature after last-minute amendments were worked out in a conference committee.

“This bill as amended strikes an important balance between ensuring that the bill reduces the number of guns in the hands of criminals while allowing all law-abiding citizens to purchase the guns of their choice,” state Senator Morgan Carroll said following Senate approval.

On Wednesday, the Colorado legislature approved a package of four other gun control measures, including a controversial ban on ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds, which Hickenlooper has said he would sign into law.

Republican legislators have largely opposed the measures and House minority leader Mark Waller called Democrats “out of touch” with their constituents for focusing on gun control when more than 200,000 Coloradans are out of work.

The Colorado legislature’s action follows the passage in New York state in January of a sweeping gun-control law that bans assault weapons and magazines that hold more than seven rounds of ammunition, requires gun owners to register most guns with the state and requires universal background checks.

President Barack Obama has put forward a number of federal gun-control proposals in the wake of the killing of 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school in December, including 20 young children.

On Tuesday, a divided U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee advanced to the full Senate a measure endorsed by Obama that would require criminal background checks for all gun buyers.

Reporting by Keith Coffman; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston

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