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Colorado Senate advances gun control measures

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the reopening and remembrance of the Century Aurora Theater in Aurora, Colorado January 17, 2013.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the reopening and remembrance of the Century Aurora Theater in Aurora, Colorado January 17, 2013.

DENVER (Reuters) - A sweeping package of gun control measures advanced in Colorado on Friday, with expanded background checks and other limits as states seek to curb gun violence after the massacre of 20 children in Connecticut.

The Democratic-controlled state Senate passed four measures by an informal voice vote, including requiring gun buyers to pay for their own background checks and banning firearms purchases by people who are convicted of domestic violence crimes.

Republican leaders in the state Senate said the bills were overreaching and a violation of the Constitution's Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to own guns.

President Barack Obama and several states have proposed new gun-control measures in the aftermath of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school.

The Colorado state Senate also gave preliminary approval to a bill that expands background checks to private weapons sales, and a measure banning online certification of concealed-carry permits, requiring that they be done in person.

All the proposals still require a formal vote by the full Senate next week, and then will head to Governor John Hickenlooper's desk for his signature or veto.

Lawmakers debated late into the night on three other proposed gun control measures. They include banning firearms on college campuses, limiting the sale of ammunition magazines over 15 rounds, and holding gun makers and owners liable for civil damages caused by their weapons.

One of the worst shootings in U.S. history occurred in Colorado when a gunman opened fire in July 2012 during a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" Batman movie, killing 12 moviegoers and wounded 58 others.

In 1999, two students at Columbine High School in Littleton shot and killed a teacher and 12 students before committing suicide.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Shumaker)

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