DENVER (KDVR) — Long hours of work over at the state Capitol are not over yet.
Members of the Colorado House stayed up until past 7 a.m. Friday to go over two bills that have made headlines this session. Now, senators are at it debating gun measures into Friday night.
Democrats at the Capitol have the upper hand when it comes to votes needed to pass legislation, but Republicans still want Democrats and the public to hear their thoughts.
Nearly 18 hours of debate at Colorado Capitol
Representatives worked long hours overnight to pass two preliminary votes. After nearly 18 hours of debate on the floor, a bill that would establish a three-day waiting period for gun purchases in the state and a bill that would allow cities to operate an overdose prevention center cleared their second reading votes. Both measures still need a third vote to clear the House chamber.
“What a privilege to have a long, tough night, to be on the other side of it though to be able to do good work for Coloradans,” said freshman Rep. Elisabeth Epps, a prime sponsor of the measure clearing the way for overdose prevention centers.
Despite being vastly outnumbered, Republican after Republican commented on the bills and offered amendments to legislation to slow the bill’s progress at the Capitol.
“As long as we are having arguments about cosmetic firearm features, we’re not going to be able to actually do the work of making our schools safer, making our communities safer and reducing the criminal acts and the criminal events that are taking our communities down the wrong direction,” said freshman Rep. Gabe Evans, of Arvada, speaking to the press before the hourslong discussion.
Senate takes up long debate on gun bills
Friday morning through evening, it was the Senate’s turn.
Members in the upper chamber of the General Assembly are debating gun-related bills that would extend who could petition to have someone’s gun removed through the state’s red flag law, require Coloradans to be 21 rather than 18 to buy any kind of gun in the state and give victims more pathways to sue gun manufacturers.
Senate Republicans plan to talk on them for hours too.
“It’s a portfolio of issues, it’s a portfolio of policies, it’s a portfolio of societal effects and impacts that we are seeking to get to, and I think a broad debate, a broad conversation as we actually seek solutions to get to safer communities, is an appropriate thing,” said Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, of Monument.
Some have asked why lawmakers are working to pass gun measures that may see court challenges. The Senate president said he is not worried.
“All of these bills are very defensible. We know that in this day in age, lawsuits happen and we probably will see some cases filed on these. But after conversations with legal experts, advocates, national folks and the Attorney General’s Office, et cetera, we feel very confident,” Sen. Steve Fenberg said.
Others have claimed the majority is rushing the bills out thanks to their stronghold at the Capitol, but Fenberg said lawmakers acted this week in an effort to make communities safer now.
“I don’t think they are moving all that fast. I mean, we’ve been talking about these bills, kind of introducing the concept of them to folks within this building and in the public eye, for months. And nothing in these bills is a secret. We introduced these bills a few weeks ago, they are running their natural course,” Fenberg said. “These bills are about one thing and one thing only: doing everything we can to save lives.”