A measure that would allow Coloradans to carry a concealed gun without a permit passed the Republican-controlled state Senate on Thursday in a vote along party lines amid a national debate about firearms that has seen President Donald Trump and others in the GOP revisiting their stance on gun control.
Senate Bill 97 was sent to the House by a 18-17 tally.
Senate Democrats pushed back against the legislation, which is likely to fail in the Democratic-controlled House.
Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, who brought the legislation, argues that people “shouldn’t have to jump through additional hoops or pay what amounts to a tax because they choose to carry their means of self-defense in a pocket or a purse or otherwise out of sight.”
“This bill has to do strictly with the rights of law-abiding citizens,” Neville said, calling it a matter of personal and public safety.
Democrats raised concerns about the potential dangers of bad actors carrying concealed weapons or people lacking proper training or experience.
“The last thing we should be doing is making it easier to have firearms that people don’t know about,” said Deputy Minority Leader Matt Jones, D-Longmont. “I find it preposterous that we bring this. That’s my opinion. And we bring it every year.”
The gun control debate at the Colorado Capitol has been heightened since last month’s high school shooting in South Florida. In February, Democrats in the House rejected three GOP bills to loosen gun regulations.
Those bills would have allowed for concealed guns to be carried in schools, repealed the state’s contentious 2013 ban on high-capacity magazines and allowed business owners and employees to use deadly force against intruders, similar to the “make my day” law for homeowners.