The floor vote in the state Senate on Tim Neville’s “constitutional carry” bill on Tuesday went as expected. His Senate Bill 116 passed with full Republican support, but Democrats took turns voicing opposition.

The immediate future of the bill is all but carved in stone. It will pass in the Republican-controlled Senate and fail in the Democratic-controlled House, the same fate as the constitutional carry bill Neville ran last year.

“The basic principle is that, if you are legally eligible to possess a firearm, you should be able to carry that weapon concealed for self defense without begging the government for permission,” Neville told his colleagues as an introduction to debate, making plain what he thinks of gun laws in general. “Under our Constitution, law-abiding people shouldn’t be forced to get a government permit before they can exercise their constitutional right to self defense.

“This is commonsense legislation that provides safety for Colorado families,” he said, noting that, across most of the state, “open carry” is already legal.

“The permit requirement is in essence just a tax to wear a coat while carrying your firearm.”

Democrats argued that requirements for the state’s concealed carry permit are minimal. They celebrated the fact that at least the permit requires a background check.

“Four hours of gun training. That sounds inadequate,” said Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat from Louisville. “The bar is really low. Taking away that modest protection is dangerous.”

Rep. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat from Aurora, noted that, over the years, thousands of residents have failed concealed carry background checks and have been denied permits as a result.

“This bill would endanger public safety,” she said.

Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Berthoud Republican, said he was confident the bill would pass in years to come.

Neville ticked off a list of more than 10 states where constitutional carry is now the law.

Indeed, with an increasing number of state capitals coming under Republican control in recent years, gun “carry” policy experiments are unfolding around the country.

This week, a law took effect in Ohio that allows residents to bring concealed-carry firearms into daycare facilities, airport terminals and college campuses.

College students in Georgia expect the Legislature to pass a campus carry bill and are asking Gov. Nathan Deal to veto it if it comes across his desk. “Ain’t nothing scarier in the land than a drunk and armed Georgia fan” more than 200 students chanted at a protest on campus Tuesday.

john@coloradostatesman.com

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