Historic Day for Gun Violence Prevention in Colorado as House Advances Three Lifesaving Bills

DENVER, CO– The House today advanced three bold new gun violence prevention measures, all of which will help to curb the epidemic of gun violence and save lives. Two bills, focused on expanding and improving our background check system and creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention advanced on Second Reading, while a bill to strengthen enforcement of laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers passed on Third Reading. 

“When Boulder was devastated by yet another mass shooting last month, my community was left reeling and asking for change,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Today, we moved to create an office dedicated to gun violence prevention, expand background checks to prevent people like the Boulder shooter from buying a firearm, and strengthened the process that prevents domestic abusers from accessing them as well. As a staunch mental health advocate, I’m also proud that we are working to pass bills to get Coloradans the support they need to address their mental health. All of these efforts will help us prevent tragedies and save lives.”

“Keeping guns out of the hands of people with violent criminal pasts is a common sense way to curb the gun violence epidemic that has taken far too many lives in our state, and it’s no surprise that a majority of Coloradans support it,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “Colorado is demonstrating that it is possible to take bold, substantive action to curb gun violence. I hope Congress is taking notes.” 

HB21-1298, sponsored by Reps. Woodrow and Amabile, prohibits a person who has been convicted of certain violent misdemeanor offenses from purchasing a firearm for five years. These specific criminal offenses show a propensity for violence or illegal usage of a weapon and include charges like child abuse, hate crimes, cruelty to animals, sexual assault and third degree assault.

The bill also closes the “Charleston loophole”, which allows an individual who may not have otherwise passed a background check to obtain a firearm if the results of said background check take longer than three days to process. This bill avoids that by creating a state requirement for a firearms dealer to receive approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation prior to transferring a firearm.

“Today is a groundbreaking and hopeful day in the history of the Colorado House,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “In a single day, the House advanced three bills that will help us get to the root causes of gun violence and make our state a safer place to live. As we take these lifesaving steps, I’m particularly excited about the creation of the Office of Gun Violence prevention, which will ensure our gun violence prevention efforts are centralized and working as efficiently as possible.”

“Coloradans have become intimately acquainted with the horrors of gun violence, whether they manifest in mass shootings, suicides, or the everyday community and domestic violence that takes loved ones from families across the state far too often,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “The Office of Gun Violence Prevention will channel our efforts to promote safety and mental health resources into one place while also funding the type of innovative community-driven violence interruption programs that will help us end this public health epidemic.” 

HB21-1299, sponsored by Reps. Bacon and Sullivan, establishes the Office of Gun Violence Prevention under the Department of Public Health and Environment. The Office would be responsible for conducting public awareness campaigns about gun violence prevention. It would educate the public about existing state resources and laws, including how to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order, how to access mental health resources and how to store firearms securely.

The office would also fund proven community-based violence intervention programs that are focused on interrupting cycles of gun violence through competitive grants. Finally, the Office would be tasked with promoting research and presenting gun violence prevention tools and resources that would be available to the public and to create and maintain a database of research regarding gun violence in Colorado.
HB21-1255, sponsored by Reps. Monica Duran and Matt Gray, would strengthen and streamline procedures for the relinquishment of firearms by someone who has a domestic violence-related protection order issued against them. Current law already requires domestic violence offenders who are subject to a protection order stemming from an act of domestic or intimate partner violence to forfeit their firearms and refrain from possessing or purchasing firearms for the duration of the order. This bill simply clarifies the way in which defendants must comply with this requirement, and establishes requirements for courts. The bill passed the House on Third Reading by a vote of 39-23.