Colorado lawmaker leaves behind loaded handgun in state Capitol

DENVER Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:40pm EST

A pedestrian walks up the middle of North Capitol Street towards the U.S. Capitol building, on largely deserted streets, as a major snow storm hits the Washington area closing U.S. Federal Government offices for the day and shutting down much of the city of Washington February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (

A pedestrian walks up the middle of North Capitol Street towards the U.S. Capitol building, on largely deserted streets, as a major snow storm hits the Washington area closing U.S. Federal Government offices for the day and shutting down much of the city of Washington February 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg (

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DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado lawmaker said on Thursday he found a loaded handgun that one of his colleagues had mistakenly left in a room at the Capitol building where a committee had discussed a bipartisan measure to ease restrictions on carrying concealed weapons.

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.

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 bipartisan support.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and David Gregorio)

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Comments (4)
Dr_Steve wrote:
Do as I say. Don’t do as I do.

Feb 20, 2014 7:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Bakhtin wrote:
He must be one of those responsible, law-abiding gun owners the NRA keeps telling us about.

Feb 21, 2014 7:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
jbeech wrote:
Regrettable, embarrassing, but ultimately, much ado about nothing. Sadly, it was used as an opportunity to score cheap political points versus a rare chance to actually build a relationship with the opposition. Somehow I’m not surprised because even if the shoe had been on the other foot, our politics has become so acrimonious the environment for cooperation is poisoned. One thing is certain, the finder is no statesman in making and the fellow who left it behind has egg on his face but nothing much comes of it. Heavy sigh.

Feb 21, 2014 7:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
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