Colorado House passes stolen firearms bill after renaming it in memory of Isabella Thallas

Colorado session ends with hard-fought wins, some misses
Posted at 1:27 PM, Apr 05, 2021

DENVER – The Colorado House on Monday passed a bill requiring gun owners to report stolen firearms to law enforcement and renamed the bill after a woman who was allegedly killed by a man who stole the weapon used in the shooting from a Denver police officer.

The Lost or Stolen Firearms bill, SB21-078, was renamed Monday to be called the Isabella Joy Thallas Act, after which it passed the House on third readings in a 41-24 vote.

In early March, Ana Thallas, the mother of 21-year-old Isabella, spoke up in favor of the bill now named after her daughter, saying the bill was not about taking away gun rights but rather “asking gun owners to be responsible.”

Isabella Thallas was shot and killed last June in the Ballpark neighborhood while walking her dog with her boyfriend, who was also shot and injured. The suspect, Michael Close, is said to have taken the weapon allegedly used in the shooting from a Denver police officer with whom he was friends.

Close pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in March to the 22 counts he faces, including first-degree murder.

SB21-078 passed the Senate in a partisan 20-15 vote, with all 15 Republicans voting against the measure, on March 10. Monday’s 41-24 House vote was also on party lines, with all Republicans opposed.

The measure now heads back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments made in the House.

The bill, if passed and signed into law by Gov. Polis, would require people who lose or have a firearm stolen to report said loss or theft to a law enforcement agency within five days of noticing it was missing.

Failure to do so would lead to a $25 fine for a civil infraction, while second or further violations would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable with fines of up to $500. A House-passed amendment says a family member or person who lives with the owner of the stolen or lost firearm may also report the loss to a law enforcement agency even if the owner does not.

Law enforcement agencies that receive such reports would have to enter any descriptions of the guns they receive – including manufacturer, serial number, model, caliber and more – into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Information Center database within five days.

Democrats have generally been supportive of the measure, with the bill sponsors saying that a law would be another tool for responsible gun ownership, while some Republicans have said the bill infringes on the Second Amendment and shared concerns the measure would not have much effect on responsible gun owners.

“Come to the table, and let’s be ready to work. This isn’t about taking your rights away. This isn't about taking your guns away. This is about making sure we are creating a safer community for everyone,” Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, told Republican lawmakers in late March when discussing the measure.

“By requiring that lost or stolen guns be reported in a timely way, this bill will give law enforcement the information they need to prevent crime and track down perpetrators when crimes are committed,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, who is one of the bill’s sponsors, on Monday. “Renaming the bill after Isabella is the least we could do to honor her memory and her family today.”

With the Senate’s approval, the measure would be the first firearms-related bill to make it to the governor’s desk this year as Democratic lawmakers in particular look to address weapons again, especially in the wake of the Boulder King Soopers shooting.

Another bill, HB21-1106, which would require the safe storage of firearms and impose fines if those requirements are not met, passed the House 40-25 in early March and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 3-2 vote on April 1, but has not yet been brought up in the full chamber.