When 10 people were killed in our community just over a month ago, I said I didn’t want moments of silence, I wanted moments of action. Late last week, House and Senate Democrats acted. We introduced a package of three bills designed to curb the gun violence epidemic in our state. These bills will save lives by expanding background checks and closing loopholes in the system, giving local governments the tools they need to craft community-based solutions, and creating an office tasked with preventing gun violence.
Together with two bills that have just been sign into law in Colorado – Safe Storage and Lost & Stolen, as well as HB21-1255, a bill restricting access by domestic abusers – we are accomplishing more on gun violence prevention than ever before in our state. While no single policy can be the cure-all for gun violence, we believe these coordinated and bold steps are going to make a big difference. We’ll be working hard to get these bills to the Governor’s desk. – Judy
HB21-1298 Expanding Background Checks
Sponsors: Reps Amabile & Woodrow and Senators Pettersen & Gonzales
Prohibits a person who has been convicted of a specific violent misdemeanor from purchasing a firearm for 5 years. These specific offenses show a propensity for violence or illegal use 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 let people who may not otherwise have passed a background check obtain a firearm if it took longer than three days to process. This bill avoids that by creating a state requirement for a firearms dealer to receive approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation prior to transferring a firearm.
“Background checks are one of the most effective tools we have to keep deadly weapons out of dangerous hands,” said Senator Julie Gonzales. “By ensuring that those who have committed violent offenses are unable to purchase a firearm, we will undoubtedly save lives. But this bill doesn’t stop there – we are also closing a critical loophole that has long allowed firearms to be purchased without any background check if there is a national backlog. No matter the wait, background checks should be non-negotiable for gun purchases and this legislation will ensure that.”
Status: Judiciary Committee review on Wednesday, May 5
SB21-256 Local Preemption
Sponsors: Sen Majority Leader Fenberg, Sen Moreno and Reps Hooton & Daugherty
Allows local governments to implement laws around gun ownership that are broader than state statutes – granting municipalities the right to decide regulations for their community.
“Just ten days before the King Soopers shooting, courts struck down Boulder’s citywide assault weapons ban. This was the culmination of years of advocacy and bravery from community members, and it made residents feel safer. It’s time we give the power back to our localities so they are able to craft their own tailored, community-based responses to gun violence,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg. “Our state includes a diverse set of communities and we need to allow them to look out for the safety of their residents.”
Status: Assigned to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee
HB21-1299 Office of Gun Violence Prevention
Sponsors: Reps Sullivan & Bacon and Sens Fields & Hansen
Establishes the Office of Gun Violence Prevention under the Department of Public Health and Environment. The office will be responsible for conducting public awareness campaigns about gun violence prevention. It will 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. The office also will fund proven community-based violence intervention programs through competitive grants. Through this office, we can begin to understand why gun violence and gun suicides are particularly high in Colorado, and the effectiveness of our tools and resources.
“True gun violence prevention requires that we start thinking bigger and more holistically,” said Senator Rhonda Fields. “Making top-down regulations without investing in grassroots education will only limit the effectiveness of our policies. We need to build broad public awareness that empowers communities to take action – protecting their loved ones in moments of crisis and implementing evidence-based initiatives that will interrupt cycles of violence and trauma.”
Status: Assigned to Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee
Mountain Community Town Hall with Joe Neguse
Please join me this Thursday for a virtual town hall with US Rep Joe Neguse, and Colorado state Reps Dylan Roberts and Julie McCluskie. We’ll focus on some of the key issues and opportunities facing our mountain communities. Register in advance: https://www.neguseevents.com/may-6-town-hall
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
1 in 5 US adults experience a mental health condition each year. That includes individuals from every culture, community, and background.