Colo. Tightens Gun Controls Hours After Prison Chief Shot

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 20 2013 1:21 PM

Colorado's New Gun Control Laws Signed Hours After State's Corrections Chief Shot Dead

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A lone anti-gun activist protests as Second Amendment demonstrators rally on Jan. 9 at the Colorado State Capitol

Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed new gun control legislation into law on Wednesday, just hours after the head of the state's prison system was shot dead. Tom Clements, 58, was the head of the Colorado Department of Corrections. He was shot once, fatally, in his home Tuesday night. The Denver Post has more details on the shooting: 

Clements' wife, Lisa, told a 911 dispatcher that the gunman rang the doorbell and then shot her husband in the chest, according to a dispatcher's recording. She told the dispatcher she was not sure if the gunman was in the house.
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Police are still searching for the shooter, and have not yet identified any suspects, according to Reuters. The Post notes that police are looking for a "boxy" two-door vehicle seen outside his home at the time of the shooting. Officials say that the shooting doesn't appear to be the result of a home invasion, and that they're not sure whether it was random or if Clements was targeted, possibly because of his job.

Colorado's new gun laws will, starting July 1st, require background checks for online and private gun sales, and ban ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds. While some county sheriffs and legislators in the state have vocally opposed the new laws, Hickenlooper's signing of the bills on the eight-month anniversary of the Aurora movie theater shootings was emotionally charged. Here's the Associated Press describing the scene: 

Hickenlooper was surrounded by lawmakers who sponsored the bills at the signing ceremony. Before signing the first bill, which requires purchasers to pay fees for background checks, he looked around with a solemn look on his face and then began signing it. Every time he signed a bill, applause erupted from lawmakers and their guests, which included families of the victims of last year's mass shootings in Aurora and Connecticut ... After signing the bills, Hickenlooper hugged various lawmakers and victims.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats dropped an assault weapons ban provision from federal gun control legislation. While that news has upset a lot of gun control advocates, as Slate's Dave Weigel explained, it was more or less expected to fail all along.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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