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March 7, 2023

Legislation to Save Lives and Prevent Gun Violence Passes Committee

Bill to create three day waiting period advances

DENVER, CO - The House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee today passed legislation to save lives and reduce gun violence by creating a minimum three day waiting period to delay immediate access to a firearm. It passed by a vote of 7-4.

“Waiting periods save lives by creating an opportunity to intervene or connect people who may be considering self harm or violence with care that can help them,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “I know from personal experience how a waiting period can prevent self harm. My son tried to purchase a firearm with the intent of committing suicide, and only our urgent action to try to stop the sale after I saw the transaction on his bank account saved his life. While no single bill will stop our epidemic of gun violence, common sense solutions like waiting periods, which are supported by data and evidence, will save lives.”

“This legislation is one of many steps we’re taking this year to reduce gun violence in our communities and save lives,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “Waiting periods are effective, with research showing that these laws reduce firearm homicide rates by up to 17 percent. Improving public safety is a priority for Colorado Democrats, and addressing the public health crisis that is gun violence in our state will help Coloradans feel safer no matter where they are.”

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.

Current law mandates that a background check is complete before a firearm can be transferred. Background checks can typically take less than three days to complete. HB23-1219 would require a gun purchaser to wait three days from the initiation of the background check or an approved background check, whichever is later, until they could be in possession of their newly purchased gun. Creating a waiting period delays immediate access to firearms and can help prevent impulsive acts of violence, including suicides, homicides and assaults. 

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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