Colorado Prison Chief Shot Dead Hours Before Governor to Sign Landmark Gun Laws

Tom Clements was met by a gunman when answering the door to his home.

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The head of Colorado’s corrections department was shot and killed last night as he answered the door to his home, Reuters reports.

The fatal shooting of Tom Clements occurred just hours before Colorado governor John Hickenlooper was poised to sign landmark gun laws responding to a wave of mass shootings last year.

Clements, 58, was fatally shot once at his home in Monument, about 20 miles north of Colorado Springs. Authorities say they are searching for the perpetrator, but no suspect has been identified.

Colorado lawmakers drafted gun control legislation after mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown Connecticut last year. The laws will expand background checks and limit magazine sizes. Following governor Hickenlooper’s signature, the laws are poised to go into effect July 1.

The New York Times notes that, “Some county sheriffs in the state have publicly vowed not to enforce the measures.”

The National Rifle Association’s local affiliate fought hard against the measures, arguing that the laws aimed at protecting human life will harm the state’s economy. “Hunters will avoid coming here,” organization president Tony Fabian told KMGH-TV, Denver’s ABC affiliate. “Weapons accessories manufacturers have already threatened to leave.”

Governor Hickenlooper, who considered the late Tom Clements an ally, remarked on his death on his official Facebook page:

Last night, Tom Clements was killed at his home in Monument. I can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it … I am so sad. I have never worked with a better person than Tom, and I can’t imagine our team without him. Tom regularly spoke of your professionalism and dedication to the department. It is during times like this that we must stand together to meet the Department’s public safety mission and to honor Tom’s memory.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.