State Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat, speaks to reporters outside Denver District Court Tuesday March 19, 2019.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

The top Democrat in the state Senate said he will vote against House Bill 19-1177, a proposal to allow courts to temporarily remove firearms from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

“I took a hard look at this bill, and while I strongly believe in its intent of preventing gun violence, this is simply not the right legislation for the people of Pueblo and southern Colorado,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia in a statement.

The Pueblo Chieftain first reported his decision.

“Make no mistake — as a Marine veteran, I firmly believe that we can work together while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners and addressing the issues at hand. I want to continue working with my colleagues to find a Colorado solution,” Garcia said in the statement.

The Senate President’s no vote doesn’t come as a huge surprise. When the bill was first introduced in the House, Garcia said he was looking forward to continued conversations to find the best policy for Colorado.

“I recognize this conversation is difficult, but it is one we need to have and an issue we need to address,” said Garcia on Feb. 14.  

Senate Republicans oppose the bill, which means Democrats cannot lose any other Democratic votes or the measure will fail.

“This bill is supported by an overwhelming majority of Coloradans, and outside of this building, it is not controversial,” said Democratic Sen. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, the bill’s main sponsor. “We are going to pass this bill and do what’s right for our law enforcement, domestic violence survivors, our kids who just want to feel safe when they go to school, and the countless family members who have lost someone to unnecessary gun violence.”

She said she’s still confident it will pass its final vote in the Senate, even without Garcia’s support.

The so-called “red flag” measure, failed in the previous legislative session. Opponents contend it could amount to a gun grab, won’t make people safer and fails to address the underlying mental health crisis.

Some add the measure to the list of bills they think can be used to try to recall certain lawmakers and even Gov. Jared Polis, who has said he supports the legislation.

In 2013, two Democratic senators were recalled from office for voting for universal background checks for gun purchases and a ban on high capacity magazines. A third resigned rather than face a recall campaign.