Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has signaled a possible reversal on gun control and now may be open to supporting more restrictive gun laws, such as a ban on assault weapons.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, the Democratic governor said he “wanted to have at least a couple of months off after the shooting in Aurora to let people process and grieve and get a little space, but,” the “time is right” now to discuss gun control.
“When you look at what happened in Aurora, a great deal of that damage was from the large magazine on the AR-15 (rifle),” Hickenlooper lamented. “I think we need to have a discussion and say, ‘Where is this appropriate?'”
These comments differ from his initial reaction after the shooting, when he said: “If there were no assault weapons available–there were no this or no that–this guy’s going to find something. Right?”
Hickenlooper added then: “And, you know, if it wasn’t one weapon, it would have been another.”
Hickenlooper’s office told Denver’s ABC affiliate that he has “not endorsed any changes to gun laws, but he welcomes the discussion.”
Republicans in Colorado’s state Senate and House criticized Hickenlooper’s comments.
Colorado State Sen. Greg Brophy, a Repubilcan, told Denver’s ABC affiliate that when Democrats captured majorities in both the state House and Senate, “a lot of my colleagues predicted” they would attempt to pass more laws restricting gun rights.
Brophy accused Hickenlooper of having an “extreme liberal agenda against the Second Amendment.”
Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Mark Waller, the GOP’s incoming House leader, said he did not think it was “appropriate” for Hickenlooper to “capitalize on tragedies to further some political agenda.”
Hickenloooper’s comments after the shootings at a Oregon shopping mall and the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher, who played football for the Kansas City Chiefs.
According to the Associated Press, Hickenlooper said assault weapons were “designed for warfare” and “designed to pierce bulletproof vests and body armor.”
Hickenlooper could be changing his tune on gun control to explore a potential Democratic presidential run in 2016. He told the Associated Press that he was “so moderate” that it would be “difficult” to imagine himself succeeding in the primary.