Lawmaker leaves Glock in statehouse bathroom, fueling debate about guns in Capitol building

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican state Rep. Don Wilson, left, confers with GOP Minority Leader Rose Pugliese on the House floor, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

A state representative apologized Thursday for leaving his loaded 9mm Glock handgun in a bathroom at the Capitol building.

“Late on the evening of April 9, 2024, an incident occurred where my firearm was left briefly unattended at the Capitol building after the building was closed to the public,” read a statement from Rep. Don Wilson, a Republican from Colorado Springs.

No state laws were violated and there are no criminal charges resulting from the incident, according to the Colorado State Patrol, which is responsible for Capitol security.

While Wilson apologized for making a mistake, legislative Democrats said it was proof that lawmakers and others shouldn't be allowed to have guns in the statehouse building.

Wilson was at the Capitol late Tuesday filling in on the Judiciary Committee. The hearing wrapped up just before 9 p.m. A few minutes later, Wilson left his firearm in the bathroom, according to CSP.

About twenty minutes later, a janitor found the gun and called state patrol. At 10:14 p.m., Wilson contacted the patrol “to report leaving items in the restroom,” according to CSP.

The Capitol had already been closed to the public by the time of the incident, according to CSP. Wilson’s statement said he took “full and complete accountability,” and that he takes firearm safety seriously. “I made a mistake and am very sorry,” the statement read.

It continued: “This is a humbling experience and I will reaffirm my commitment to responsible handling procedures.”

Democratic leaders criticized Wilson and used the incident to argue for stricter firearm rules in the Capitol. While the general public cannot bring weapons into the building, lawmakers and certain other credentialed individuals are allowed an exception. A “sensitive spaces” bill currently up for consideration would ban guns from much of the building for everyone but law enforcement.

“The consequences of leaving a firearm unattended in a public space could be very serious, and the incident this week created a dangerous situation,” read a statement from Rep. Julie McCluskie, the Democratic House speaker.

“I hope Rep. Wilson appreciates the severity of his mistake and the safety concern this has created for us in the Capitol.”

Wilson, who is in his first term, is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the former mayor of Monument. He is running for the El Paso County Board of Commissioners.

Wilson has made a “commitment” not to carry a gun in the Capitol anymore, according to House Majority Leader Monica Duran, but the Republican spokesman could not immediately confirm that. Wilson didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment.

House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese said that Wilson had done well to take responsibility: “It is rare in politics these days and I commend his honesty and transparency,” she posted on X.

Guns at the capitol have made headlines several times before. Last year, GOP Rep. Ron Weinberg had two guns stolen from his car while it was parked outside the capitol. And in 2022, GOP Rep. Richard Holtorf dropped a handgun outside the House chambers and quickly picked it up. Earlier this session, state Rep. Mike Lynch had to step down from his role as House Minority Leader when it came to light he was stopped for drunk driving with a handgun in his car; Colorado law bars people from being in possession of a gun while intoxicated.