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Colorado Lawmakers Hope Threat Of Small Fine For Gun Owners Leads To Big Changes

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Scott Franz
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Capitol Coverage
The bill requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms is one of two gun bills advancing at the Capitol.

Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill requiring gun owners to call police within five days of noticing a firearm has been lost or stolen.

If they do not, they would face a $25 fine.

Bill sponsor Leslie Herod, D-Denver, says the goal of the new law is to help police locate stolen firearms before they can be used to commit other crimes.

“The consequences in this bill are minimal, but we hope it will educate and change behaviors,” she said.

Lawmakers also renamed the bill the Isabella Joy Thallas Act in honor of a 21-year-old Denver woman who was shot and killed last year by a man using a stolen rifle.

Herod says Thallas was a “beautiful, kind woman whose life was cut too short.”

“It honors Isabella's memory, and hopefully will change behaviors so we can get a better hold of these firearms that are lost or stolen,” Herod said.

No Republican lawmakers voted for the bill, which would impose bigger fines for repeat offenders. In public hearings, they questioned how effective it would be and labeled the proposal as government overreach.

Critics also said most gun owners are already calling police to report a missing or stolen firearm. Republicans said the state should instead focus on educating more gun owners about the need to report missing firearms.

The lack of bipartisan support for the bill led to friction on the House floor earlier this week.

Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, criticized his Republican colleagues for not talking to him about gun legislation.

Sullivan’s son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.

Sullivan pleaded with Republicans on Monday to support the latest gun control bill, saying polling shows most Coloradans support it.

The bill addressing lost and stolen firearms is the first of two gun bills Democrats are advancing at the Capitol.

Another measure up for debate in the Senate would penalize gun owners who fail to secure their weapons when they are not being used at home. Gun owners who allow children or at-risk adults to gain access to the weapons would face criminal penalties under the bill.

Meanwhile, Boulder lawmakers say they are still talking about how to respond to the mass shooting at King Soopers last month.

Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, says potential legislation is likely weeks away from being introduced.

“I don’t have anything to unveil today, we are still having conversations with policy experts, with our colleagues… with the governor’s office and we are still working through it,” Fenberg said Tuesday. “This is something we don’t want to rush into, but we want to do thoughtfully and make sure that whatever we do… that they are not just to make sure we’re not just responding to a tragedy, but making a difference.”