House Votes to Improve Background Check System, Create Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Two lifesaving gun violence prevention bills pass the House on Third Reading 

DENVER, CO– The House passed two bills to curb the epidemic of gun violence, prevent mass shootings and save lives. The two bills, focused on expanding and improving our background check system and creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention passed the House on Third Reading.

“Colorado is showing that we can do so much more than offer thoughts and prayers in the wake of mass shootings,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Strengthening our background check system and closing the Charleston loophole are a commonsense way to stop firearms from getting into the hands of dangerous individuals, and they have the support of a majority of Coloradans. I’m proud of the work we did today and look forward to more moments of action to come.”

“Coloradans have been loud and clear in demanding action to curb the epidemic of gun violence that takes loved ones away from families far, far too often,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “Today, the House delivered. While no single bill or initiative will put an end to gun violence, ensuring that violent criminals have a harder time obtaining a deadly weapon is a commonsense step that will undoubtedly save lives.” 

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 passed by a vote of 42-21.

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. 

“Colorado has made great strides in the area of gun violence prevention in the past few years, and especially the past few months,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “Today, we voted to establish an innovative office that will centralize these efforts to save lives and prevent gun violence in our communities. Having this office will make our efforts more efficient and effective, and will hopefully provide answers that will guide our path forward.”

“The Office of Gun Violence Prevention is designed to respond to the public health crisis that is gun violence by taking cues from affected communities and providing all Coloradans with the type of educational and mental health support that could save lives” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “In addition to the mass shootings we see on the news all too often, gun violence rips communities of color apart every single day in acts of ‘everyday’ violence. I’m proud of the work we did today to reject the status quo and ensure that communities affected by gun violence are properly invested in making necessary change. ” 

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 bill passed by a vote of 40-23.

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.