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Senate votes to let Coloradans carry concealed guns without a permit

March 8, 2018 Updated: March 9, 2018 at 6:19 am
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Colorado State Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, makes a point during debate on a concealed carry bill during action on the floor of the chamber Thursday, March 8, 2018, in the State Capitol in Denver. The measure passed along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate and now moves to the House for consideration. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Colorado Senate gave a narrow passage to "constitutional carry" - carrying a concealed weapon without a permit - Thursday morning, one of the last gun bills filed so far this session.

The Republican legislation likely faces the same outcome other gun bills have received in the Democratic - led House: Certain defeat.

Senate Bill 97 passed the upper chamber, 18-17.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, called the permit a "coat tax," since it's already legal to carry a side arm, but if a person puts on a coat, they must get a permit, undergo a background check and taking a training course - costs that could add up to hundreds of dollars.

"It's a tax to carry a gun I can already constitutionally carry," he said,

Democrats said that doing away with the training requirement was a big part of their reason for opposing it. They made the same argument in a floor debate last week.

Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, said none of her constituents have asked for this, and she believes only a small number of Coloradans support it. The training helps ensure people carrying weapons know how to act legally and responsibly, she said

"It's not good for Colorado, and no one is asking for this," she said.

Sen. Tim Neville, R-Castle Rock, who sponsors the bill annually, thinks it's being miscast by gun opponents.

"This bill has nothing to do with more guns or less guns," he said. "This bill has to do strictly with the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms and to proceed in that activity to protect themselves, their families and their children."

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