DENVER, CO – Democratic lawmakers today unveiled a historic package of bills aimed at combating gun violence in Colorado and creating safer communities across our state.
Democrats introduced legislation that will expand and strengthen Colorado’s “Red Flag” law, raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old, establish waiting periods, and remove Colorado’s overly-broad firearms industry immunity protections so survivors of gun violence can better seek accountability and justice through the courts.
“Far too many Colorado families have suffered through the unimaginable pain of having someone they love killed by a gun, which is why Democrats are committed to ending the scourge of gun violence in our state,” Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said. “These bills will help address this public health crisis and give communities more tools with which to protect themselves. These are common sense policies that will respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners while protecting our communities, improving public safety, and saving lives across Colorado.”
“Improving public safety and reducing gun violence is one of our top priorities this session,” said House Majority Leader Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge. “Colorado Democrats are delivering on our promise to take bold action that will prevent Coloradans from dying of gun violence. As a responsible gun owner, I know these proposals respect our rights and are broadly supported across the state. These common sense solutions will save lives, protect our communities, and keep firearms away from dangerous individuals and those who are contemplating self-harm.”
Gun violence prevention bills introduced Thursday include:
Improving and Expanding Colorado’s Red Flag Law
President Fenberg & Sen. Sullivan // Assistant Majority Leader Bacon & Rep. Weissman
The legislation will expand who is eligible to file for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which will allow more qualified individuals to intervene before gun violence has a chance to occur. Currently a petition for removal can only be filed by a family member or a law enforcement officer. This bill will expand the list of individuals eligible to file an ERPO to include District Attorneys and other law enforcement officials, licensed health care providers, mental health professionals, and educators.
Raising the Age to Purchase all Firearms to 21
Sen. Danielson & Sen. Mullica // Majority Leader Duran and Rep. Hamrick
Currently, individuals must be 21 to purchase a handgun but only 18 to purchase long guns. The bill would increase the age to purchase a firearm to 21 for all firearm purchases and includes exceptions for peace officers and members of the military, antique weapons collectors, and those who have completed a hunter’s safety education course and hold a hunting license. The bill also allows individuals 18-21 to possess a firearm while under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, firearms are the leading cause of death for young people in the U.S. ages 18 to 20, and the firearm suicide rate among this group has increased a staggering 61 percent in the last decade. Research indicates that 18 to 20-year-olds commit gun murders at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older, and peer-reviewed research shows that adolescent and post-adolescents have less capacity for mature judgment and self-control, which often leads to risky behavior and aggressive impulses.
Establishing a Three Day Waiting Period for Firearm Purchases
Rep. Froelich & Rep. Amabile // Sen. Sullivan & Sen. Hansen
This legislation establishes a three-day waiting period to purchase a firearm. Research shows that creating a waiting period for purchasing a firearm has led to a seven 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, more than half of all suicides in the state.
Advancing Justice for Victims of Gun Violence and Removing Gun Industry Immunity in Colorado
Sen. Jaquez Lewis & Sen. Kolker // Rep. Mabrey & Rep. Parenti
Right now, gun sellers and manufacturers enjoy broad protections under federal law from most types of civil lawsuits, and Colorado law goes even further by including a punitive provision that makes victims of gun violence who sue the gun industry pay the company’s legal fees in dismissed cases. This bill would remove Colorado’s overly-broad immunity protections for gun sellers and manufacturers and allow legitimate lawsuits against the gun industry to move forward.