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State lawmakers debate gun bills for more than 20 hours

After little progress on Friday and Saturday, House Democrats invoked a rule to limit debate, shutting down a filibuster by Republicans.

DENVER — It was a long few days for state lawmakers at the capitol, where debate on three gun bills in the House of Representatives lasted more than 20 hours. 

Marathon sessions on Friday and Saturday focused on Senate Bill 168 and Senate Bill 170. SB23-168 would make it easier to sue gun manufacturers, and SB23-170 would expand the state's red flag law by allowing more people to petition for judges to take guns away from people deemed a risk. 

After hours of debate and little progress on the two gun bills, Democrats invoked a rule that shut down a filibuster by Republicans. Under Rule 14, Democrats limited debate on each bill to one hour after the adoption of the motion.

"I think it was a direct shot at democracy," said Republican state Rep. Ty Winter. "Us having our voice is huge, especially with the supermajority."

Democrat state Rep. Jennifer Bacon argued, "Conversation had been had over plenty of hours. We started to hear similar arguments repeated and then we started to ask ourselves how do we weigh the importance of getting the bill done versus continue to hear the arguments."

House lawmakers passed an amendment that would rename Senate Bill 168 in honor of Jessica Redfield Ghawi, who was killed in the Aurora theater shooting.

On Sunday, both Senate Bill 168 and Senate Bill 170 passed on third reading along party lines. They now head to the Senate for review of amendments.

Winter and his Republican colleagues were concerned the several pieces of gun legislation would do more harm. 

"We are afraid extending the people who can file an [extreme risk protection order], it will stop a lot of my constituents from getting the help they may need through these tough times of rural life," Winter said.

Democrats also invoked Rule 14 for Senate Bill 169 on Sunday before a second reading. This time, the party limited debate to four hours, but very little of that time was used. Senate Bill 169 would increase the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. 

The bill passed on second reading and is scheduled for a third reading in the House chambers on Monday.

This long weekend at the capitol comes after hundreds of students from across the metro area protested there on Thursday. They demanded legislative action on guns after, police say, a student shot two administrators inside East High School on Wednesday. 

"The fact we are here now debating these bills just again showed us the urgency of the moment and the need for us to get this done," Bacon said. 



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