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February 7, 2023

Dems Defeat Dangerous GOP Gun Bills

Similar legislation in Missouri criticized for hampering law enforcement investigations

DENVER, CO - The House State, Civic, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee today defeated two Republican bills that would have interfered with critical law enforcement actions and investigations and made Coloradans less safe. 

“As Colorado Democrats work to reduce gun violence and protect our communities, Republicans in the legislature are sponsoring bills that would disrupt critical public safety efforts, hamper law enforcement investigations and make us less safe,” said State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “The dangerous legislation we defeated today would have prevented local law enforcement from partnering with federal departments to solve firearm-related crimes, risked compromising ongoing investigations, and jeopardized security at our airports. But that is only half the problem. I must admit I’m disappointed in my GOP colleagues who antagonized several of the student witnesses who came to share their concerns that this legislation would lead to even more violence. We should be encouraging young people to participate in the process, not grilling them on ideological grounds.”

“Across the country, sheriffs, prosecutors, and police chiefs have raised concerns that this type of legislation will make it harder for them to protect their communities,” said Rep. Andrew Boesenecker, a member of the State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “As a responsible gun owner, I know there’s more we can do to prevent gun violence, and House Democrats are committed to this goal. That’s why we took decisive action today to defeat legislation that would have far-reaching and dangerous consequences for the safety of our communities.” 

HB23-1044, sponsored by Representative Ken deGraaf, would have prohibited the state of Colorado or any political subdivision from enforcing or attempting to enforce any federal laws or regulations on the possession, ownership, use, or transfer of a firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition.  It would have prevented law enforcement from seeking federal assistance for firearms tracing and other support for solving crimes– efforts that are especially critical for solving violent crimes. 

The bill would have prevented local law enforcement from cooperating with FBI or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms investigations or enforcement of federal prohibitions on bump stocks or ghost guns. The bill would have also prohibited local police departments from working with federal prosecutors to bring weapons possession charges for violations of federal law, such as possession of a weapon by a prior offender for a drug-related offense. 

In Missouri, where a similar law passed in 2021, sheriffs, prosecutors, and police chiefs have decried the law’s impact on their ability to partner with federal agencies to hold people who break the law accountable. By opening up local law enforcement departments to lawsuits, HB23-1044 could have had a chilling effect on police and sheriffs’ willingness to work with federal agencies to solve firearm-related crimes.  

Under the bill, any state employee, including those who operate Colorado’s airports and other secure facilities, would have been prohibited from offering any material support, including the use of facilities or communications equipment,  to federal personnel who enforce federal firearm restrictions, including at those secure facilities that regulate the use of firearms at those locations. In the Department of Justice lawsuit against HB85, Missouri’s Second Amendment Preservation Act, the department noted how the bill would nullify firearm restrictions at airports. 

HB23-1050, sponsored by Representative Ty Winter, would create a Colorado Shoot First law for business owners. Research repeatedly shows that these laws increase homicides and accidental firearm deaths while doing nothing to reduce crime. In states with Shoot First laws, homicides where the victim is Black and the shooter is white are deemed justified five times more frequently than when the shooter is Black and the victim is white. 

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