JOINT RELEASE: Democrats Unveil Lifesaving Gun Violence Prevention Bills

The three bills presented today respond directly to the Boulder tragedy by taking common sense steps to curb our state’s gun violence epidemic

DENVER, CO – During a press conference today, House and Senate lawmakers were joined by local advocates to unveil a package of three bills designed to curb the gun violence epidemic and respond to the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting. The bills would save lives by creating an office tasked with preventing gun violence, expanding background checks and closing loopholes in the system, and giving local governments the tools they need to craft community-based solutions to gun violence. All three bills will be introduced later today.

Local Preemption, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Fenberg, Senator Moreno and Representatives Hooton & Daugherty

  • This bill allows local governments to implement laws around gun ownership that are broader than state statutes – granting municipalities the right to decide regulations befitting their community. 
  • Starting in the Senate

“Just ten days before the King Soopers shooting, courts struck down Boulder’s citywide assault weapons ban. This was the culmination of years of advocacy and bravery from community members, and it made residents feel safer. It’s time we give the power back to our localities so they are able to craft their own tailored, community-based responses to gun violence,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “Our state includes a diverse set of communities and we need to allow each of these communities to look out for the safety of their residents.”

“Just over a month after the tragedy that rattled Boulder, Arvada, and the state of Colorado, we’re introducing a bold package of bills to respond directly to the mass shooting and save lives,” said Representative Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada. “By giving local governments the authority to implement community-driven gun violence prevention measures, we’re doing things the Colorado way. I’m honored to be a part of the effort to honor the lives of the Boulder King Soopers victims with action.” 

Office of Gun Violence Prevention, sponsored by Representatives Sullivan & Bacon and Senators Fields & Hansen

  • The bill 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 researching and presenting on 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.
  • Starting in the House

Mass shootings grab headlines, but gun violence rips families and Black and Brown communities of color apart with no fanfare every single day,“ said Representative Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. No single policy will be the cure-all that resolves the public health crisis of gun violence once and for all. But by leaning in and taking several coordinated and bold steps, we’ll be able to make progress and save lives in communities like mine. This bill creates the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and tasks it with leveraging existing gun violence resources and community-driven violence intervention programs to make the greatest impact.

“True gun violence prevention requires that we start thinking bigger and more holistically,” said Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. “Making top-down regulations without investing in grassroots education will only limit our policies’ effectiveness. We need to build broad public awareness that empowers communities to take action – protecting their loved ones in moments of crisis and implementing evidence-based initiatives that will interrupt cycles of violence and trauma.”

Expanding Background Checks, sponsored by Representatives Amabile & Woodrow and Senators Pettersen & Gonzales

  • This bill prohibits a person who has been convicted of specific violent misdemeanor offenses from purchasing a firearm for 5 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.
  • Starting in the House

“We often hear the refrain ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ as an explanation for why we shouldn’t pass common sense gun safety bills,” said Representative Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “The bill we are introducing today does exactly that: focuses on the people. We’re improving and expanding our background check system to ensure that people convicted of hate crimes, sexual assault, child abuse or similar violent misdemeanors are barred from accessing a firearm for a period of time. This shouldn’t be controversial.”

“Background checks are one of the most effective tools we have to keep deadly weapons out of dangerous hands,” said Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver. “By ensuring that those who have committed violent offenses are unable to purchase a firearm, we will undoubtedly save lives. But this bill doesn’t stop there – we are also closing a critical loophole that has long allowed firearms to be purchased without any background check if there is a national backlog. No matter the wait, background checks should be non negotiable for gun purchases and this legislation will ensure that.”