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Colorado Legislators Debate Proposal to Punish Theft of Handguns

Colorado lawmakers clash (Credits: Colorado Politics)

Colorado legislators are embroiled in a heated debate over a bill aimed at penalizing gun owners who leave firearms unattended in vehicles. The legislation, House Bill 1348, has sparked contention between House and Senate members over an amendment proposed by Senator Dylan Roberts.

The proposed amendment seeks to classify the theft of firearms valued at less than $2,000 as a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying penalties of up to 364 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. This addition mirrors language from a previous bill, House Bill 1162, which failed to advance in the House Judiciary Committee.

Handgun (Credits: The Colorado Sun)

Senator Roberts defended the amendment, expressing concerns about potentially punishing crime victims under the original bill. However, House sponsors accused the Senate of seeking “revenge” by incorporating language from the failed House bill into HB 1348.

Representative Lorena Garcia argued that the amendment’s focus on firearm theft diverged from HB 1348’s intent, which pertains to the storage of firearms in vehicles. House Speaker Julie McCluskie reprimanded Garcia for her remarks, emphasizing the need for constructive dialogue.

Representative Mike Weissman echoed Garcia’s sentiments, criticizing the Senate for broadening the scope of the bill beyond its original purpose. Despite arguments from Republicans and moderate Democrats that the amendment aligns with the bill’s title, concerns persisted about setting a precedent for incorporating unrelated legislation.

Handguns (Credits: Colorado Politics)

The House voted against concurring with the Senate amendment, with a narrow margin of 34-27. All Republicans and 11 Democrats supported concurrence, reflecting the contentious nature of the debate.

The bill will now proceed to a conference committee composed of House and Senate members tasked with reconciling differences between the chambers. However, the composition of the committee remains uncertain, highlighting ongoing tensions surrounding the legislation.

The outcome of this legislative battle will shape Colorado’s approach to firearm regulation and highlight the difficulties of addressing gun-related issues within the state.

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