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Colorado House democrats vote to limit debate on gun bills, cutting off Republican filibuster

Democrats in the Colorado House took the rare step to avoid a Republican filibuster as debate over gun bills continued in a rare weekend session.
Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-25 23:56:23-04

Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives invoked Rule 14 Saturday evening, limiting debate on a series of gun bills to avoid a Republican filibuster.

The rare move came after debate on gun bills went late into the evening Friday and continued all day Saturday due in part to GOP delays.

Colorado Republicans called the decision "an infringement on Coloradans' ability to hear legislation debated before being passed."

The text of Colorado House Rule 14 reads:

Upon the affirmative vote of a majority of all members elected (33), debate may be closed at a time not less than one hour from the adoption of a motion to that effect, and once motion is made, no other motion except to adjourn or to recess shall be entertained until the motion to close debate upon the pending question is decided.

Lawmakers had gaveled in for a rare Saturday session as they continued debate over the gun control bills.

They spent most of the day discussing a measure to expand the state’s red flag law.

Current law only allows close family members and law enforcement to file a petition for an extreme risk protection order, which allows police to seize guns from someone deemed too dangerous to themselves or others.

The proposal under consideration would let district attorneys, teachers, and doctors file petitions too.

"I think the expansion in giving the ability, whether it be teachers, whether it be physicians, it's really important in law enforcement to be able to do something if they see something and know something, instead of tying their hands and the inability to do it,” said State Rep. Monica Duran, the Democratic House Majority Leader.

The bill was proposed in response to local law enforcement in Colorado Springs not filing a petition against the suspected Club Q shooter, who at one point was arrested for making a bomb threat.

Colorado lawmakers debate gun control bills in rare weekend session

Opponents, including many conservative law enforcement leaders, say the bill infringes on Second Amendment rights and they say there’s no evidence it would have prevented the Club Q shooting.

"I don't think the red flags worked in Colorado,” said State Rep. Ty Winter, R-District 47. “I think that a lot of the shootings that we've seen people purchased the firearms legally and the risk protection orders, I don't think they would have mattered in a lot of these cases.”

Lawmakers are also considering a bill that would let victims of crimes involving guns file civil suits against gun manufacturers.

Another bill under consideration would raise the minimum age to legally buy a gun from 18 to 21.

The bills were introduced well before Wednesday’s shooting at Denver’s East High School,which injured two school administrators.

The bills already passed the state Senate earlier in the month.

After a groundswell of anger and frustration from students, teachers and parents some lawmakers feel an urgent need to act.

Republicans have vowed to do all they can to delay these bills in the House, but they likely don't have the numbers to stop the bills from passing since Democrats are in firm control of the chamber.

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