The controversial "red-flag" gun bill sharply dividing the Legislature passed its first Senate test Friday night on another party-line vote, with Democrats approving it after a long public hearing in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

House Bill 1177 advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where the bill is expected to go for a full Senate debate as early as next week.

The legislation is drawing an ever-growing crowd of supporters and opponents as it makes its way through the Legislature this session. It's already passed the House on a largely party-line vote.

Democrats, however, have a smaller majority in the Senate, with a 19-16 edge. Gov. Jared Polis has said he supports the bill, as does new Attorney General Phil Weiser.

There are 13 states with some form of a "red-flag" law. It's called that because it would let concerned family members or police obtain an Extreme Risk Protection Order if someone is posing a "significant" risk to themselves or others — essentially disarming them before they could harm anyone.

The civil order from a judge would require law enforcement to temporarily confiscate that person's weapons until there is a hearing — within 14 days — on whether the person is a risk. The bill says an attorney will be provided to that person for the risk hearing.

Every hearing on the legislation has been long hours of emotional argument between the survivors of gun violence, family members of suicide victims, law enforcement authorities and gun-rights advocates who call the bill a "gun grab."

There is no sharper fault line in the debate than the divide among county sheriffs and whether they would enforce the law.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock is a supporter, saying such a law might have saved his deputy, Zackari Parrish, from being shot to death in December 2017, but an Army veteran having mental problems.

Yes, he knew that Douglas County commissioners had warned him they didn't support the law.

"But I'm not going to stop," he told the committee.

On the other side was Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, who said he saw his duty as protecting the Second Amendment rather than a state law he considers unconstitutional.

Jane Dougherty, whose sister, Mary Sherlach, was a teacher killed while trying to stop the gunman at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, bristled at the defiance.

"Don't let county commissioners and rogue sheriffs stop you," she said, urging the panel to pass the bill. "Be as brave as my sister."

Guns rights advocates introduced the concept of a vindictive ex-spouse or family member securing a court order to confiscate guns without any notice to the owner.

"This bill is a scheme for gun confiscation and strikes at the right to possess firearms," said James Bardwell, a lawyer for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. "This (protective order) can be requested by anyone."

There was testimony from people who insisted the law would have saved a loved one from suicide. There was testimony that it wouldn't — that people bent on suicide find other means if guns are taken away.

"This only addresses guns," one opponent warned the committee, a complaint that was often repeated.

Republican critics have seized on the theme that HB 1177 doesn't offer any medical help to the person posing a risk. Law enforcement already has the power to detain someone on a 72-hour mental health "hold" and confiscate their guns at the same time. Usually, the guns are given to a family member, not held by the agency.

Democrats responded that there was still time this session for Republicans to offer a mental-health bill of their own.

"This bill (HB 1177) is about public safety," answered Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver, a co-sponsor.

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