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February 23, 2023

JOINT RELEASE: Colorado Democrats Unveil Bill to Establish Waiting Periods for Firearm Purchases

DENVER, CO - The House today introduced legislation sponsored by Representatives Meg Froelich and Judy Amabile and Senators Tom Sullivan and Chris Hansen to establish a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm.

“The research is clear–this legislation will reduce suicide deaths and homicides,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “By delaying access to a firearm, waiting periods create opportunities to intervene and prevent impulsive acts of gun violence. We are committed to advancing commonsense proposals like this bill that will improve public safety and reduce gun violence in our communities.”

“Right now, if you want to get your hands on a gun, you can do so with near immediacy,” said Senator Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial. “Whether you intend to harm yourself or others, waiting periods on firearm purchases delay immediate access to weapons and cut down on impulsive acts of violence. I’m proud to champion this legislation that will save lives and create safer communities for all Coloradans.”

“When someone is in crisis, readily accessible firearms make it easier for them to attempt self-harm or engage in other violent acts,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Waiting periods limit options to obtain a firearm for someone who may be contemplating suicide or making a quick decision to engage in violence. No single piece of legislation will stop every gun death, but simple and broadly supported solutions, like three-day waiting periods, will save lives, improve public safety, and make a real difference in reducing firearm-related deaths in Colorado.”

“A cooling off period could be the difference between life and death for a person in the midst of a mental health crisis,” Senator Chris Hansen, D-Denver, said. “This legislation is backed by research and will reduce gun deaths by suicide and homicide. I’m incredibly proud of Colorado’s leadership on this issue and am eager to continue to take meaningful steps forward, like implementing a three day waiting period, to reduce the epidemic of gun violence.”

Research shows that creating a waiting period for purchasing a firearm has led to a 7 to 11 percent reduction in suicides by firearm and a 17 percent reduction in firearm-related homicides. In 2020, Colorado had the seventh highest suicide rate in the US, and in 2021, there were 740 suicides by firearm in Colorado, accounting for more than half of all suicides in the state. From 2014 to 2019, the number of firearm deaths in Colorado was greater than deaths from motor vehicle crashes and opioid overdoses. Among firearm deaths, more than 75 percent were caused by intentional self-harm or suicide.

HB23-1219 establishes a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm. Creating a waiting period delays immediate access to firearms and can help prevent impulsive acts of violence, including suicides, homicides and assaults. Current law mandates that a state and federal background check is complete before a firearm can be transferred. Background checks can typically take far less than three days to complete. In the case they take longer, the firearm cannot be transferred until the background check is complete.

Transferring a firearm prior to the expiration of the waiting period would be a civil infraction punishable by a $500 fine for the first offense, and a $500 to $5,000 fine for a second or any subsequent offenses.

The bill would not apply to antique firearms or to sales taking place between an active duty military servicemember who is set to deploy overseas and their family.

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