A trio of bills introduced in the aftermath of the Boulder King Soopers mass shooting that Democrats hope will curb gun violence are now the law of Colorado after Gov. Jared Polis signed the pieces of legislation.
HB 1298 from Reps. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, and Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, and Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, seeks to expand and tighten background check requirements.
Under the bill, those with convictions for violent misdemeanors will not be able to buy a gun for five years after the conviction. The suspect in the March Boulder King Soopers shooting had been convicted of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, three years before he purchased the firearm, according to witness testimony.
The bill will also close the so-called "Charleston loophole," a reference to the 2015 shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., that resulted in the murders of nine Black parishioners. The shooter obtained a firearm without a background check, because under South Carolina law — which was Colorado's prior to the implementation of HB 1298 — if a background check doesn’t come back within three days, the dealer can transfer the firearm to the buyer without it. The bill will not allow a transfer until a background check is completed.
Polis also signed HB 1299 from Reps. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, and Sens. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver. The measure creates the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, a clearinghouse charged with compiling gun violence data to drive decisions and strategies.
The office, which is set to be housed with the state Department of Public Health and Environment, will also be charged with crafting public service messages and awarding grants to community organizations seeking to implement community-based gun violence prevention measures.
The final bill from the package that was signed into law was SB 256 from Sens. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Reps. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, and Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada. The measure lifts Colorado's ban on local governments passing stricter gun laws than the state's.
The bills signed on Saturday bring the total number of new gun laws passed during the 2021 session to five. Polis earlier in the year signed House Bill 1106, which mandates the safe storage of firearms when not in use, and Senate Bill 78, which requires firearm owners to report to law enforcement within five days if their weapon is lost or stolen.
One firearm-related measure remains outstanding: House Bill 1255. The measure from Pettersen, Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, and Sens. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, is aimed at strengthening the state’s process to get firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.
Under the bill, those who have a protection order filed against them following a domestic violence arrest would be required to file an affidavit with the court indicating the number, type and location of the firearms in their possession.
Current law already requires those who have a protection order filed against them to give up their guns, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle indicated compliance with that mandate is not universal. The measure seeks to bolster the requirement by adding a mandate that those who have protection orders filed against them submit a signed declaration confirming they have relinquished their firearms.
The bill is on Polis’ desk awaiting action.