Colorado state Senate President Leroy Garcia

Colorado state Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.

The Colorado Senate has put off what was expected to be Monday's biggest vote of the day: Final action on the "red flag" gun bill.

And that leaves unresolved -- at least for one more day -- how the Senate's president, Democrat Leroy Garcia of Pueblo, will vote on the controversial measure.

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.

But instead of a final roll-call vote Monday, the bill was laid over until Tuesday, likely because a Democrat, Sen. Angela Williams of Denver, was excused on Monday and that could have made all the difference on the vote.

But with Garcia's vote in question, the bill's fate is uncertain in a chamber where Democrats hold a narrow 19-16 majority.

Garcia has never spoken publicly in support of the red-flag bill, 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. 

He was notably absent from the press conference that announced the red flag bill's introduction and said only in a statement that "I recognize this conversation is difficult, but it is one we need to have and an issue we need to address. We must protect the most vulnerable while respecting law-abiding citizens. I look forward to continued conversations with Majority Leader [Alec] Garnett and Coloradans to ensure that we find the best policy for Colorado."

Garcia's Democratic predecessor in Senate District 3, Sen. Angela Giron, was recalled in 2013 after voting in favor of several gun control bills, as was Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs.

A third Democrat, Sen. Evie Hudak of Arvada, whose district is now represented by Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, resigned rather than face a recall. Zenzinger and Republican Laura Woods have traded the seat in the past two elections. 

And talk of recalls, including for Garcia, are already beginning to circulate on social media. 

Garcia was re-elected last November in a landslide over a Libertarian opponent; he had no Republican challenger. The most recent voter registration statistics from the Secretary of State's Office, from January, show Democrats with a solid advantage in his district (35,360) over unaffiliated (27,824) and Republican (20,365) active voters.

But in August 2013, a month before the recall, Democrats held an even bigger voter registration advantage, with more than 38,000 active Democrats, 18,871 Republican voters and 23,678 unaffiliated voters. Even so, that advantage wasn't enough to save Giron from losing her seat. And three years later, the district voted for President Donald Trump.

Even if Garcia voted against the bill, Republicans would need one more Democrat, or at least have one excused, in order to defeat the red-flag bill.

Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Democratic Sen. Nancy Todd of Aurora have both publicly and privately pleaded with Garcia to negotiate with the minority party and work out what they see as problems with the bill that have brought the Senate to a halt on and off for two weeks.

"No bill is that important ... that we cannot have peace," Todd said. "I'd like to smile again," Sonnenberg said.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.