Colorado state Senate President Leroy Garcia says he will vote against controversial "red flag" gun legislation.
Pueblo Democrat Leroy Garcia's announcement leaves House Bill 1177 with only an 18-17 margin of passage in the Senate, assuming every other Democrat votes for it -- which is not a certainty.
Garcia, who in the past has taken conservative stands on some gun-control measures, revealed his position Tuesday to his hometown newspaper, the Pueblo Chieftain.
“I took a hard look at this bill and while I strongly believe in its intent of preventing gun violence, this is simply not the right legislation for the people of Pueblo and southern Colorado,” he told the paper.
“Make no mistake -- as a Marine veteran, I firmly believe that we can work together while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners and addressing the issues at hand. I want to continue working with my colleagues to find a Colorado solution.”
House Bill 1177 would allow a court to order the seizure of guns from someone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
Up to this point, the measure has been favored by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. It gained preliminary Senate approval by voice vote late Friday after hours of debate.
A final roll-call vote had been expected Monday, but it was delayed because a Democrat, Sen. Angela Williams of Denver, was excused and absent.
The measure could come up for a full Senate vote as soon as Wednesday.
Garcia had never spoken publicly in support of the red-flag bill before his statement Tuesday, and in fact has been a reliable vote in years past to repeal a gun control measures passed in 2013 that limits ammunition magazines to 15 rounds or less.
Garcia's Democratic predecessor in Senate District 3, Sen. Angela Giron, was recalled in 2013 after voting in favor of several gun control bills.
Even with Garcia voting against the bill, Republicans would need one more Democrat, or at least have one excused, in order to defeat the red-flag bill.
A similar measure last year did have a modest amount of GOP support, although it was defeated anyway, but critics say this year's version is more extreme and poses a greater threat to Second Amendment gun rights because, in their view, it would make it too easy to seize guns and too difficult for someone to get them back.
Under HB 1177, a family or household member or a police officer could ask a court for a "temporary extreme risk protection order," or ERPO, if they can establish "by a preponderance of the evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody ..."
Under the bill, "the petitioner must submit an affidavit signed under oath and penalty of perjury that sets forth facts to support the issuance of a temporary ERPO and a reasonable basis for believing they exist."
Under the ERPO, "the respondent shall surrender all of his or her firearms and his or her concealed carry permit if the respondent has one," the bill says.
If a court agrees to issue a temporary ERPO requiring that weapons be surrendered, "the court must schedule a second hearing no later than 14 days following the issuance to determine whether the issuance of a continuing ERPO is warranted," the bill says. "The court shall appoint counsel to represent the respondent at the hearing. If a family or household member or a law enforcement officer establishes by clear and convincing evidence that a person poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm, the court may issue a continuing ERPO. The ERPO prohibits the respondent from possessing, controlling, purchasing, or receiving a firearm for 364 days."
Marianne Goodland of Colorado Politics contributed reporting.