DENVER (CBS4) – Dozens of people weighed in on a bill at the Colorado State Capitol that would require gun owners securely store their weapons. Opponents of the bill say most gun owners already do what the bill requires, but supporters say, just last week, a 14-year-old Lafayette boy accidentally shot and killed a friend.

Dr. Martha Middlemist, a pediatrician, told lawmakers one of her patients was also involved in a deadly accidental shooting. She says the 8 year old found his dad’s loaded gun in a dresser and accidentally shot and killed his 8-year-old cousin.

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(credit: CBS)

“My patient had no idea the firearm was loaded, and never thought for one minute there would be a bullet in this gun. What this child saw that day is a visual that will live with him for the rest of life.”

Rep.s Kyle Mullica and Monica Duran are sponsoring the bill that requires all guns sold in the state have a locking device, and if there are kids under the age of 18 in the home the guns are securely stored.

“We wanted to make sure there was not a financial barrier to owning guns, and obviously a safe counts as safe storage, but so does a trigger lock, so does a cable lock, so does biometric technology,” said Mullica.

Under the bill, a violation would be a low-level misdemeanor. Duran admits enforcement won’t be easy, but says the bill is about raising awareness and changing behavior.

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“We’re trying to focus on the education piece. It’s not something we’re going to go and check to see, but if we’re educating people as to why it’s important,” she said.

Both Mullica and Duran are gun owners themselves and say they understand the importance of easy access to a weapon for protection.

“We purposefully put in the bill to say it doesn’t apply if it’s on person or within reach,” said Mullica. “If a 14 year old has to access it to defend their life, there’s an affirmative defense for that. If they have access to it to defend livestock, there’s an affirmative defensive for that.”

Dave Kopel, a Second Amendment expert, says more people die from heatstroke than accidental shootings. He argues the bill could do more harm than good.

“When someone is under attack, fine motor skills are difficult. So it is incorrect for people to think removing the trigger lock while under the stress of a criminal attack is some kind of easy thing to do,” he said.

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Supporters say secure storage of guns would not only help prevent accidental shootings, but teen suicides, too. The bill passed its first committee on a party-line vote.

Shaun Boyd