Uncommon Courage: Another Big Gun Safety Bill Passes

Isabella Thallas.

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.

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14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    It's not the absolute liability bill we need, but it's a baby step in the right direction.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    It says something that there was absolute partisan opposition to a law requiring

     * awareness, * inaction, and (if prosecuted and convicted) a *$25 misdemeanor violation

    By contrast …. Federal government mandates reporting of ANY loss of "explosive materials" within 24 hours, and violations can result in a $1,000 fine or not more than a year in prison.

     

  3. Blackie says:

    A small step is what it is.

    A good step would to require liability insurance for each and every weapon. The state requires insurance for cars, why not guns?

    • MattC says:

      I thought there was some Republican opposing gun regulation because we ought to be treating guns like any other product, like cars.
       

    • Negev says:

      I wonder what liability insurance would cover in a case like this.

      • kwtree says:

        It would cover the same things auto liability insurance covers: medical expenses, injury, death, property damage. 
         

        It would be great motivation for “responsible” gun owners to actually be responsible. Lock your weapon, by gun safe, smart lock, etc. carry insurance on it, train with it, keep the kiddies and loonies away from it. 
         

         

        • Negev says:

          Generally, intentional criminal acts are excluded from liability insurance coverage. 

          • kwtree says:

            Losing a firearm is not an intentional criminal act- but it is neglectful carelessness. This modest bill merely mandates a report to law enforcement that a firearm is lost or stolen. If the report doesn’t get made, there are modest penalties.

            Obviously, the intent of the law is to stop some intentional criminal acts from using lost/ stolen guns. How can anyone sane possibly object to it?

            • Negev says:

              The intent of every law is to stop intentional criminal acts.

              Any sane person would have reported the stolen gun voluntarily.

               

               

              • kwtree says:

                Sanity is losing ground among modern terrorists. You may have noticed

                These guys already have large gun collections, and they are preparing for civil war against people like me, my friends, and family. ( Liberals, people of color, LGBT folks, Democrats). 

                Anything that puts another layer of accountability on their deadly weapons, I’m in favor of.

                More mundane criminals that might rob a store or menace or shoot someone in anger….same. Let’s track the guns like any controlled substance- like cough syrup or J i D’s bag of fertilizer. The more accountability, the more control, the better.

                To J iD’s point, that enforcement might be uneven is not a reason to not have a law on the books. See: speeding laws, safety belts, etc.

                • Negev says:

                  The people you expect to control the accountability of weapons are the very same people that were unable to account for their own. 

                • Conserv. Head Banger says:

                  There is no comparison between a lost gun from somebody’s home, and somebody getting caught on C-470 in the Morrison cops’ speed trap. 

                  While well intended, the bill would have more impact if it covered loss of weapons only by police officers, as in the young woman’s case. If Dudley Brown or Patrick Neville were to lose a gun, I think it’s highly unrealistic to expect someone like that to report the loss.

              • Diogenesdemar says:

                Perhaps the intent of the bill is to give "responsible" gun owners a bit of additional incentive to keep good track of, and exercise some diligent control over, the many components of their arsenals?

            • JohnInDenver says:

              From my policy perspective, I can object to this bill because it criminalizes something that will hardly ever be enforced (allowing for selective prosecution, i.e., discrimination), will use resources, and likely will not actually do anything to impact the number of deaths, injuries or gun crimes. 

              I’ve lived in the same place for years and am an indifferent caretaker of my lawn.  I know I had most of a bag of fertilizer — it may or may not have contained ammonium nitrate.  If it did, and if someone has taken that bag out of my shed, I’ve violated federal law (see above). Am I going to go check and if it is gone, report the loss to the ATF on the theory of “better safe than criminal”?  Nope. 

              I expect similar compliance with the gun law.  Some people may report, especially if numerous guns were taken, they were valuable enough to be insured, etc.  As we found a pistol while cleaning the house of my increasingly forgetful mother-in-law, we asked her if there were other guns. She said their might have been a second pistol at some point but she hadn’t seen it recently so we shouldn’t worry about it… I didn’t know if New Mexico had a mandatory reporting law, and wouldn’t have filed even if I did.

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