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March 28, 2024 11:35 AM UTC

Yes, Please: Guns Out Of The State Capitol

  • by: Colorado Pols
Colorado Republicans have historically not been their own best advocates on gun safety.

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports on a surprising twist in the debate over legislation that would allow for additional areas where firearms including concealed weapons are banned across the state. Although the bill’s original scope was scaled back in amendments, a location added to the list of gun-free zones could result in a big change in a controversial policy in place for many years: a loophole in the law that allows lawmakers to carry concealed guns inside the Colorado Capitol even though the public is required to disarm before entering the building:

Colorado lawmakers substantially modified a proposal that originally listed nearly 20 places where a person would be prohibited to carry a firearm — even with a concealed weapons permit — to only a handful of areas, notably including higher education institutions.

In narrowing down that list, the legislators added a new place where guns would be banned — the state Capitol. And, under the modified bill, that ban would apply to legislators. [Pols emphasis]

As anyone who visits the state capitol building already knows, visitors must pass through metal detectors and X-ray screening of their bags, a policy that has been in place since an armed man was shot just outside the Governor’s office on the first floor of the building in 2007. But even though the public is screened for firearms and the building is full of Colorado State Patrol officers, lawmakers and staffers use alternate entrances to the building that bypass CSP security, and therefore in a number of cases bring guns into the building when no one else can. And as we’ve recounted in depth in this space with every occurrence, that’s led to a string of incidents in recent years involving Republican lawmakers fumbling and mislaying their guns in the building’s public spaces:

In January [of 2023], a lawmaker’s truck was broken into in the Capitol parking lot, and two handguns were stolen. Two years ago, another legislator, while rushing to a vote on the House floor, dropped his unloaded gun outside the House chambers. And 10 years ago, a lawmaker left a loaded firearm in a committee room where a hearing had just taken place.

The modified bill would prohibit firearms virtually anywhere in the state Capitol, including in lawmakers’ offices, on the floor of the House or Senate, and in committee hearing rooms.

Apropos, a separate bill requiring secure storage of firearms stored in vehicles is also moving through the legislature, and GOP Rep. Ron Weinberg whose guns were stolen from the Capitol parking lot voted no. Another Republican lawmaker, former Rep. Lori Saine, brought a loaded gun with her into a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport–and sponsored bills rolling back gun laws the next month when the legislature reconvened. Rep. Richard Holtorf, the lawmaker who dropped his loaded gun while rushing to the House chambers for a vote, hasn’t slowed his roll in opposition to gun safety laws.

The point is that the legislators most obsessed with protecting the right of everyone to pack heat wherever they go are not good role models for the policy they support, and at some point their lackadaisical record with their personal firearms at the Capitol is going to get someone hurt. There is absolutely no security justification for lawmakers being allowed to carry firearms in a building where everyone else is prohibited from carrying their otherwise-lawful concealed weapon, and has CSP on site at all times. During the debate over the expulsion of ex-Rep. Steve Lebsock in 2018, lawmakers testified about wearing bullet-proof vests out of fear of being shot by a fellow lawmaker.

The solution could not be more obvious: get all guns out of the Colorado Capitol except those in the hands of police. This is an idea whose time…well, it came many years ago. But now is just fine.


2 thoughts on “Yes, Please: Guns Out Of The State Capitol

  1. While I fully believe accidental shootings are more likely than an intentional lawmaker-on-lawmaker targeting, Harvey Milk and George Moscone were killed within San Francisco City Hall. It could happen here.

  2. I think it's about time this was done though I do wonder, will staff and lawmakers be required to go through metal detectors to get into the building?

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