State Representative Jonathan Singer, a Democrat, said he found
the gun left behind by Republican Representative Jared Wright, a
former police officer from the western town of Fruita, who
apparently forgot to retrieve the weapon when he left the room on
February 6 after a hearing on easing concealed-carry rules.
"It's unfortunate that this turned into a distraction, but it's a
real lesson on the responsibility a person takes on when they own a
firearm," Singer said in a phone interview.
Groups on both sides of the gun control debate have poured resources
into Colorado's political battle over gun rights and public safety.
Singer said he noticed a canvas bag under a table after the House
Local Government Committee adjourned.
"I saw an unattended bag, looked inside and saw a revolver," he
said, adding that he notified the Sergeant-at-Arms for the
legislature and it was quickly determined the firearm belonged to
Wright, who sits beside Singer in the committee room.
Wright could not immediately be reached for comment. Earlier, the
lawmaker told the Denver Post that as a sworn police officer he is
allowed to carry a concealed weapon inside the Capitol, although he
will no longer do so.
Singer said Wright called him and "profusely apologized" for the
oversight in leaving the loaded gun behind.
Gun control is a
contentious issue in Colorado, which in recent years has experienced
some of the worst mass shootings in the United States, including a
high profile 2012 incident in which a lone gunman opened fire at a
suburban Denver movie theater, killing 12 people.
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In the aftermath of that shooting, Democrats who control both houses
of the state legislature passed a series of gun-control laws last
year. Among the most controversial was a law limiting ammunition
magazines to 15 rounds and another requiring background checks for
all private gun sales and transfers.
Two Democratic senators were recalled last year over their support
of the gun measures, while a third resigned her seat rather than
face a recall election.
Republican lawmakers introduced bills in the 2014 session seeking to
repeal the two laws, but Democrats have killed the proposals in
committees on straight party-line votes.
The bill before lawmakers at the committee meeting where the gun was
left involves easing restrictions on carrying concealed guns. It has
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and David Gregorio)
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