Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on final passage this week of Senate Bill 21-078, the “Isabella Joy Thallas Act” requiring guns that are lost or stolen to be reported as such to police within 5 days of becoming aware they are missing:
The bill, if passed and signed into law by Gov. Polis, would require people who lose or have a firearm stolen to report said loss or theft to a law enforcement agency within five days of noticing it was missing.
Failure to do so would lead to a $25 fine for a civil infraction, while second or further violations would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable with fines of up to $500. A House-passed amendment says a family member or person who lives with the owner of the stolen or lost firearm may also report the loss to a law enforcement agency even if the owner does not.
Law enforcement agencies that receive such reports would have to enter any descriptions of the guns they receive – including manufacturer, serial number, model, caliber and more – into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Information Center database within five days.
FOX 31’s Deborah Takahara reports on how the bill received its name, for a young Denver woman who was shot to death with an AK-47 assault rifle stolen from a Denver police officer:
Isabella Thallas was killed on June 10, 2020, with a stolen weapon that was never reported. The “Isabella Joy Thallas Act” will require an owner to report a lost or stolen firearm within five days after discovering it is missing.
Isabella’s mother, Ana Thallas, said she was overcome with emotion when she learned a gun safety bill would be named after her daughter.
“Monumental, bittersweet. A lot of my frustration lies in the fact that my daughter’s life is gone and that’s the only time that change happens,” Ana said.
The details of the case that led to this law are extremely troubling. The suspect in the shooting of Isabella Thallas allegedly stole the murder weapon from his friend Denver Police officer Dan Politica, who did not notify his superiors about the stolen gun until he realized it “may have been used in this homicide.” The shooter was also charged with using a high-capacity magazine in a crime, but the owner of the weapon was a police officer exempt from the ban. The suspect fired over 20 rounds at Thallas and her boyfriend from his window in an argument literally over dog poop, and has pled not guilty by reason of insanity.
Stolen firearms are one of the principal means by which criminals obtain weapons they are unable to purchase through legal sellers. Requiring gun owners to report their weapons as lost or stolen should be a no-brainer even in the absence of a recent tragic lesson in such a law’s necessity–but was nonetheless met with blanket party-line opposition from Republicans, passing without a single GOP vote in either the Colorado House or Senate.
After the recent spate of mass shootings including the death of ten people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, debate over gun safety nationwide has retreated once again into the same circular arguments and sense of hopeless gridlock. Which is unfortunate, since some proposed solutions in the debate over high-powered semi-automatic weapons like the one used in the Boulder shooting and the killing of Isabella Thallas may need to come federally in order to be effective.
But in Colorado, our lawmakers are doing everything they can. Democrats in Colorado have sacrificed more than most politically to advance gun safety legislation for almost a decade now, persevering through some of the fiercest opposition in modern American politics on any issue. And in 2021, they’re still moving forward.
Seriously folks, give them credit for this. It requires courage not often found.