Critical Measures To Enhance Community Safety & Address Gun Violence Epidemic Become Law
Monday, Governor Jared Polis signed three landmark gun safety measures into law that aim to address the issue of gun violence with a root-cause, multi-pronged approach. Supporters say the new laws will allow for local control of firearm regulation, expand background check requirements, and establish a first-of-its-kind statewide Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
SB21-256, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg and Senator Dominick Moreno, declares that the regulation of firearms is a matter of state and local concern, and will repeal the state-level preemption that currently says otherwise. The bill allows local governments to implement laws around gun ownership that are stricter than state statutes – granting municipalities the right to decide regulations befitting their community.
“Colorado is a state with a long history of trusting local governments to do right by their communities’ unique needs,” said Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder). “Repealing the state preemption on local regulation of firearms will allow communities to respond to the particular issues that their communities face, and that their people demand. This is an essential step forward in continuing the tradition of local control over issues that look different from town to town, and county to county.”
“Each city and town in Colorado has different needs and should be able to determine how to best keep their community safe,” said Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City). “We need to ensure that local governments have the ability to implement the gun safety measures that are needed in their jurisdiction.”
HB21-1298, sponsored by Senators Julie Gonzales and Brittany Pettersen, prohibits a person who has been convicted of specific violent misdemeanor offenses from purchasing a firearm for 5 years. These specific criminal offenses show a propensity for violence or illegal usage of a weapon and include charges like child abuse, hate crimes, cruelty to animals, sexual assault, and third degree assault. The bill also closes the “Charleston loophole,” which allows an individual who may not have otherwise passed a background check to obtain a firearm if the results of said background check take longer than three days to process.
“Background checks are one of the most effective tools we have to keep deadly weapons out of dangerous hands,” said Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver).
HB21-1299, sponsored by Senators Chris Hansen and Rhonda Fields, establishes the Office of Gun Violence Prevention under the Department of Public Health and Environment. The Office would be responsible for conducting public awareness campaigns about gun violence prevention. It would educate the public about existing state resources and laws, including how to file an Extreme Risk Protection Order, how to access mental health resources, and how to store firearms securely.
“Gun violence continues to plague our communities, and for too long Coloradans have been crying out for their leaders to do something about it. We need more than thoughts and prayers, we need action,” said Senator Chris Hansen (D-Denver). “With this bill, we are investing in community-sourced solutions that will combat the root causes of gun violence rather than its symptoms.”
“True gun violence prevention requires that we start thinking bigger and more holistically,” said Senator Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora).