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Lost and stolen guns bill, renamed for Ballpark shooting victim, clears House

Pat Poblete - Colorado Politics | Published on 4/7/2021

Lawmakers in the Colorado state House on Monday voted along party lines to give final passage to a bill that would require owners of firearms to report to law enforcement within five days of learning their gun has been lost or stolen.

Senate Bill 21-078 would require owners of lost and stolen firearms to report the weapon’s model, serial number, caliber and manufacturer to law enforcement. Failing to report would merit a $25 fine for the first incident, and would be a misdemeanor crime on subsequent occasions, with a fine of up to $500.

Ahead of the final vote, bill sponsor Rep. Leslie Herod introduced an amendment to name the bill after Isabella Thallas, the woman who was shot and killed with a stolen firearm in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood last summer.

“We don't know if this bill would have stopped the tragedy that happened, but in Isabella's honor and in honor the family, I hope that we can vote together and support this one step forward in ensuring that we don't have more senseless tragedies like this,” the Denver Democrat said as Thallas’ family watched on from the chamber’s gallery.

Meanwhile, the bill’s other House sponsor delivered a forceful request for his GOP colleagues to vote in support of the proposal. Referencing polling released in January 2019 by Keating Research, Rep. Tom Sullivan said 87% of Coloradans supported the concept of the bill.

“They're going to be looking to us to see what are we going to do. Are we listening to them?” Sullivan, D-Centennial, said. “A ‘No’ vote says you're not listening to them.”

Those comments drew a rebuke from Speaker Alec Garnett, one of two the Denver Democrat directed at Sullivan for impugning the motives of Republican lawmakers. Sullivan explain his frustration was borne out of a lack of communication with Republicans.

“You spend all your time talking at me and pointing at me,” Sullivan said to his GOP colleagues. “Last week, after an interview I did, Gayle King called me back — I talked to Gayle King about gun violence in the state of Colorado more than I've talked to any of the 24 people sitting over here.”

After Garnett interjected to ask him to speak directly to the bill, Sullivan closed by calling for Republicans to buck their party.

“I'm asking you to do something that is counter to what your party, what your leadership may be asking for: I am asking that you listened to the people of the state of Colorado and I am asking for an ‘Aye’ vote,” he said.

Those comments drew House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, to the House well to speak on the bill.

“I will never stand at this podium to threaten members with electoral consequences of whether or not they vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on a bill,” McKean said. “In fact, shame on us if that's where we go.

“You will vote the way you need to vote. I would never assume that you accept a dictate from a party, god forbid from leadership. I would assume that what you will do is make the best decision you can for the best of this state.”

In making that decision, McKean’s members united in voting against the measure as it passed 41-24. The bill also passed out of the Senate on a party-line vote last month.