Colorado Lawmaker Leaves Loaded Pistol Unattended In Capitol Bathroom

A Colorado lawmaker left a loaded pistol unattended in a bathroom in the state's Capitol, heating arguments about whether Colorado should ban guns altogether from its state Capitol. Wyoming, meanwhile, has been trying to go the opposite direction and allow guns in its state Capitol.

Clair McFarland

April 12, 20245 min read

Colorado state Rep. Don Wilson, R-Colorado Springs, left a loaded Glock 9 mm handgun unattended in a bathroom at the Colorado Capitol.
Colorado state Rep. Don Wilson, R-Colorado Springs, left a loaded Glock 9 mm handgun unattended in a bathroom at the Colorado Capitol. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

While Wyoming lawmakers tried and failed this year to enact a law allowing guns in the state Capitol building and other gun-free zones, some Colorado legislators are trying to go the opposite direction and ban guns from the Colorado Capitol, where they’re allowed for lawmakers.

One Colorado state representative’s error of leaving a loaded 9 mm Glock unattended in the Capitol men’s room for 23 minutes could complicate that debate.

Rep. Don Wilson, R-Colorado Springs, left his firearm unattended Tuesday evening “after the building was closed to the public,” the delegate wrote in a public statement on, formerly Twitter. “I take full and complete accountability for the incident. I made a mistake and am very sorry.”

Wilson called it a humbling experience and said it will reaffirm his commitment to responsible handling procedures.

Law enforcement agents investigated the incident and did not file charges against Wilson, the Colorado Sun reported.

The Responsibility Of Every Gun Owner

Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, sponsored the now-vetoed bill that would have repealed gun-free zones in the Capitol and many other government campuses, while arguing that gun-free zones create “soft targets” that are attractive to mass shooters. Armed, law-abiding citizens make spaces safer by deterring deadly attackers, he said.

As for the lawmaker who left his Glock unattended this week, Haroldson called it a breach in personal responsibility, but one that even laws can’t micromanage.

“At the end of the day it’s the responsibility of every gun owner to make sure their firearm is secured, and in this case the individual failed to do so,” Haroldson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “We can’t legislate personal responsibility. You never can and never will.”

Haroldson said it’s a shame the lawmaker didn’t do a better job securing his weapon, and said it’s a lesson to everyone to be mindful of their firearms.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Pistols

Wyoming Rep. Ken Chestek, D-Laramie, voted and argued against the repeal.

Incidents like this are part of why he opposed that legislation, he said.

“Having guns in those spaces creates a risk of (the gun owner losing) control of the weapon — he leaves it in the bathroom like the guy did in Colorado — or there’s a fight and his gun is grabbed by somebody else,” said Chestek. “Whatever happens, there’s now a gun in that situation where there wouldn’t be a gun had the gun-free zone been in place. That creates more danger.”

Chestek said mass shooters often go into a space knowing they will be gunned down either way, whether it’s when police arrive or when a vigilante pulls his gun. But “the more common scenario” injecting harm where guns abound is that loss of control, he said.

Colorado Heads Toward Gun-Free Zone

The Colorado Legislature is now debating a bill that would prohibit firearm carrying, concealed or open, at the state Capitol, Colorado schools and voting centers.

The measure cleared the state Senate last week on a 21-14 vote roughly tracking party lines, the Sun reported.

Haroldson said he finds it interesting that, at least for the moment, Colorado’s government spaces are applying “more robust Second Amendment laws than we do.”  

Wyoming Moving The Other Way

Although Wyoming’s ban on gun-free zones failed, state officials are considering rule changes that would allow concealed carry in the Wyoming Capitol and other government buildings.

The state’s top elected officials proposed options Wednesday to allow concealed carry in parts of all state buildings, including the Capitol Complex.

The rules change was proposed by Secretary of State Chuck Gray, and Gov. Mark Gordon directed the State Construction Department to draft rules to allow the public and state employees to carry firearms.

Gray said he believes allowing this would help with overall safety in the workplace, making a vague insinuation that the media and some people’s public treatment of his office have heightened security risks for him and his staff. 

“I just think it’s really important that we take some action and allow this concealed carry because there are a lot of people in our office that want to carry and feel that’s important with the threats out there in the year 2024,” he said.

Gordon offered support for the rule change, but also said he wants a slow, methodical approach to initiating it.

Haroldson’s repeal legislation received mass Republican approval on its final chamber votes, but prompted intense debate, in part because of other issues with the bill not relating to its intent.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter