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A gun lock on a pistol at the Meriden Police Department, June 21, 2019. (Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP)

A bill that would require Coloradans to report a lost or stolen firearm within five days of realizing that it’s missing passed the state Senate on Wednesday along party lines, putting it on a glidepath to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk and all but assuring it will become law. 

The 20-15 vote on Senate Bill 78 came after Republicans expressed opposition to the measure, which would levy a fine or potential jail time against offenders.

The legislation would make failing to report a lost or stolen firearm a Class 2 petty offense, punishable by a $25 fine. A second or subsequent offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which can, though rarely, result in a jail sentence.

“It literally makes a criminal out of a victim,” Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, a Douglas County Republican, said in a speech on the Senate floor opposing the bill. “That’s what it does.”

Democrats argued that the legislation will help track weapons and boost personal responsibility for gun owners. 

“If we can get more stolen weapons off the street, we should,” said Sen. Jessie Danielson, a Wheat Ridge Democrat and prime sponsor of Senate Bill 78. “This is a measure that would help cut down on gun trafficking and cut down on gun violence. It’s a step forward in the prevention of bloodshed and pain.”

The Senate is the real test for controversial, progressive legislation at the Colorado Capitol this year since it’s where Democrats hold the slimmest majority. There are 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans, meaning the difference between a bill passing and being rejected is slim. 

In the Colorado House, there are 41 Democrats and 24 Republicans, making progressive policies much easier to pass. 

Polis, a Democrat, generally approves of tightening gun regulations.

As Senate Bill 78 heads to the House, another gun measure heads to the Senate. House Bill 1106 legislation would impose fines and potentially even jail time on gun owners who don’t use a  safe, trigger lock or cable lock when their weapons are being stored. It also would also require gun shops to distribute trigger or cable locks with every sale or transfer of a firearm. 

Every Democrat in the Colorado House but state Rep. Donald Valdez, D-La Jara, voted for House Bill 1106 this week.

Republicans spent about 10 hours opposing House Bill 1106 on the House floor Monday, saying there should be carve outs for law enforcement officers and military personnel. They also argued that it would hamper people’s ability to use their guns for self defense. 

Despite the protests, the outcome was never in doubt.

House Bill 1106 is the more controversial of the two gun measures currently being debated at the Capitol and its passage in the Colorado Senate may not be as smooth as that of Senate Bill 78. Democrats say it will cut down on suicides and accidental shootings involving children.

Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, declined to say how he would vote on House Bill 1106, though he voted in favor of Senate Bill 78 on Wednesday. Garcia has taken a more conservative position on gun regulations, voting against the so-called red flag bill in the legislature in 2019. 
Democrats may also introduce a bill this year that would require a waiting period — potentially of five days — between when someone purchases a firearm and when they can take possession of that weapon.

The Colorado Sun —

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul