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Governor Jared Polis signs HB23-1219 into law on April 28, requiring a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. Courtesy photo.

The ink of Governor Jared Polis’s signature wasn’t even dry on HB23-1219, which established a three-day waiting period for a firearm purchase, when the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association sued Governor Jared Polis and the state over the bill. The law suit also named  SB23-169, signed into law earlier today, raising the legal age to purchase any firearms to 21.

This state has seen a multitude of mass shootings, from Columbine to Platte Canyon and Arapahoe High Schools, and the Aurora Theater shooting, to the recent shootings around East High School in Denver, Democratic state legislatures have vowed over the past few years to take action as the majority party representing a majority viewpoint that common sense gun laws needed to be enacted.

“Waiting periods are a successful tool that are proven to prevent suicide and death by firearm,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, (D-Englewood) one of the bill’s sponsors. “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.”

“Today we are taking some important steps to help make Colorado one of the ten safest states, and building upon the ongoing work to make Colorado communities safer,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “Last year, I was proud to sign a comprehensive public safety plan of action into law to put Colorado on track to becoming one of the ten safest states in the nation, and this legislation today will improve public safety and reduce gun violence. I thank the bill sponsors for bringing this common-sense legislation to my desk.”

The legislation is sponsored by Senators Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Representatives Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, and Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. It creates a minimum three-day waiting period to delay immediate access to a firearm and save lives from gun violence.

“Previously, if you wanted to get your hands on a gun, you could do so with near immediacy,” said Senator Tom Sullivan (D-Centennial) who lost his son in the Aurora Theater Mass shooting. “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.”

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) responded immediately. A membership organization, it has now made good on months-old promises by filing lawsuits against what they call “unconstitutional gun control expansions” across Colorado. RMGO members have joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuits – arguing that it is “their right to keep and bear arms … being directly infringed upon by overreaching politicians in Denver.”

“For the last few months, I’ve traveled the state promising our members we would sue over these unconstitutional gun control schemes, and today as the governor signs them into law, we are making good on our promises,” said Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Taylor Rhodes. “Gun owners’ rights are being ravaged in the Colorado legislature by the puppets of Everytown for Gun Control and Michael Bloomberg. And they will not be happy until all law-abiding gun owners are disarmed, and only the criminals have guns. When a single mother is being harassed by a violent, abusive former partner, the Democrats at the Capitol think it is fine to make her wait at least three days to defend herself and her baby. And if she is twenty, these gun control fanatics insist she is completely defenseless,” Rhodes continued.

“Waiting periods are a necessary buffer when someone in a crisis wants a gun to cause harm to themselves or others,” said Amabile. “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.”

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 U.S., 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 three days.

“Gun control extremists think they can play fast and loose with our constitutionally protected freedoms because of their large majorities, but as we have promised, we will not let that happen,” said Rocky Mountain Gun Owners President Dudley Brown. “The idea that an 18-year-old can vote, serve on a jury that could send someone to jail for life, sign contracts, own property, and even be drafted into our nation’s military, but not be able to possess a basic hunting rifle is asinine.”

“A cooling off period could be the difference between life and death for a person in the midst of a mental health crisis,” said Hansen. “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.”

The RMGO says that it isn’t stopping at suing over these two bills: they add that they are eying lawsuits against SB23-168 and SB23-170.