New law requires a three-day waiting period before firearm purchase
DENVER, CO - Legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Representatives Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, and Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, to create a minimum three day waiting period to delay immediate access to a firearm and save lives from gun violence was signed into law today.
“Waiting periods are a successful tool that are proven to prevent suicide and death by firearm,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “Widely supported by gun owners, waiting periods can provide an opportunity to intervene before an impulsive act of violence is committed. This legislation is one of many ways that we’re addressing gun violence in Colorado and making our communities a safer place to live.”
“Previously, if you wanted to get your hands on a gun, you could 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 new law that will save lives and create safer communities for all Coloradans.”
“Waiting periods are a necessary buffer when someone in a crisis wants a gun to cause harm to themselves or others,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “My son’s life was spared because his background check was delayed when he went to our local gun store. To this day, he is grateful that he didn’t have instant access to a firearm at that moment. I'm confident that this legislation will help save other Colorado lives from senseless and preventable gun death.”
“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 proud to take this meaningful step 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.
Current law mandates that a background check is complete before a firearm can be transferred, which often takes less than three days. HB23-1219 requires a gun seller to wait for an approved background check or three days from the initiation of the background check, whichever is later, before delivering a gun to the purchaser. Creating a waiting period delays immediate access to firearms and can help prevent impulsive acts of violence, including suicides, homicides and assaults. Mandatory waiting periods are supported by 72 percent of gun owners.
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. It also exempts the transfer of a firearm between an active duty military servicemember and their family who is set to deploy overseas. Local governments may establish a waiting period greater than 3 days.