Bills to curb mass shootings, prevent gun violence and save lives signed into law
DENVER, CO — Governor Polis today signed three gun violence prevention bills into law. The lifesaving new laws will create the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, expand and improve our background check system, and allow local governments to implement higher gun violence prevention standards than those of the state.
“This has been a banner year for gun violence prevention in Colorado,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, sponsor of HB21-1299. “Today’s bill signing is the culmination of months of hard work finding thoughtful, effective and commonsense ways to prevent mass shootings, promote gun safety and save lives. The Office of Gun Violence Prevention will help people learn about the tools available to them like how to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order and how to access mental health resources, and it will help inform gun violence prevention in our state for years to come.”
“Communities like mine are being devastated every day by gun tragedies that amount to a true public health crisis,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, sponsor of HB21-1299. “The Office of Gun Violence Prevention responds to this need by offering community-driven solutions and providing Coloradans with the type of educational and mental health support that will save lives. I’m ecstatic to see Governor Polis sign our proposal into law today.”
HB21-1299 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.
“After a mass shooting ravaged my community earlier this year, I pledged to work to bring moments of action following our moments of silence,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, sponsor of HB21-1298. “Today’s bill signing is a resounding moment of action – a demonstration that we can do much more than offer thoughts and prayers. I’m incredibly proud of the work we did this year to curb gun violence and save lives.”
“The epidemic of gun violence demands bold action, and that’s exactly what we delivered for the people of Colorado today,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, sponsor of HB21-1298. “The new law created today will save lives and help us prevent mass shootings by making it harder for violent criminals to get their hands on deadly weapons. Today marks a great victory – I’m so grateful to the advocates and gun violence survivors who joined us today and have been standing shoulder to shoulder with us throughout the last few months of hard work.”
HB21-1298 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 closes that loophole to ensure that everyone who purchases a firearm has first passed a background check.
“Communities like mine deserve the right to establish higher standards for gun violence prevention,” said Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, sponsor of SB21-256. “Today, after months of hard work, we have officially returned this important and life saving tool back to our local governments. I’m so proud of the bold steps we’ve taken this year to address the crisis of gun violence.”
“The new law created today ensures that Colorado’s longstanding tradition of local control extends to gun violence prevention,” said Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada, sponsor of SB21-256. “We have done great work on gun violence prevention at the state level, but it makes sense to allow localities to implement additional solutions that meet their communities’ needs.”
Current law prohibits a local government from enacting laws, regulations, or ordinances regarding the purchase, transfer, or possession of a firearm. Just ten days before the King Soopers shooting, courts struck down Boulder’s citywide assault weapons ban, which had been the result of years of advocacy from community members to help keep residents safer.
SB21-256 adjusts the local prohibition by declaring the regulation of firearms a matter of both state and local concern, allowing local governments to set higher standards. Under this bill, local governments would have the authority to enact regulations governing the transfer or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearm components and accessories that go above and beyond state laws on the subject.
These three new laws are a part of a larger six-bill package on gun violence prevention passed by the legislature this year. Additional new laws include the Isabella Joy Thallas Act, which mandates the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, as well as two other laws to promote the safe storage of firearms and help keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.