President Obama's visit to Colorado Wednesday is intended to generate momentum for federal gun-control measures that Congress will take up soon.

It also, however, underscores how the substantive action is taking place at the state level.

Colorado, which passsed several important gun-control measures this legislative session, including universal background checks, is exhibit A in this argument. It is among at least 10 states that have either passed or are contemplating stricter gun laws in the wake of recent mass shootings.

Unfortunately, a lack of federal legislation ultimately could undermine positive state reforms.

A state ban, for instance, on the sale and manufacture of large-capacity magazines like the one passed by Colorado lawmakers can be circumvented if buyers drive across the state line and make such a purchase.

Of all the measures on the to-do list for Congress, we believe a high-capacity magazine ban and reinstatement of the 1994 assault-weapons ban, with modifications to address weaknesses, should be priorities. We also know those two issues are likely dead on arrival.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, disagrees with that assessment, especially as it pertains to a high-capacity magazine ban, which she strongly supports.

We'd be happy to be wrong on this count, but the fact that the magazine limit and the assault-weapons ban have been cleaved off the main Senate package to be considered separately as amendments indicates wavering support.

The remaining elements of the gun measures to be taken up next week include tightening background checks for buyers and increasing criminal penalties for those who buy guns for people not eligible to purchase them. Both of those are good policy, as is the president's administrative move to improve the quality of information going into the federal database used for gun purchase background checks.

Those steps will restrict the types of weapons and accessories available for purchase and they make it more difficult for those who are prohibited from buying them to do so.

Second Amendment absolutists see no place for reasonable, court-sanctioned restrictions. To them, any gun regulation is an affront to the right to bear arms.

We hope that federal lawmakers can see the same nuances that state lawmakers have in considering addressing gun violence.

Restricting gun rights is a far cry from abolishing them, and the sooner Congress seizes upon that distinction and acts upon it the better.

The Denver Post, April 2