Colorado bill aims to ensure domestic violence suspects surrender firearms


    State Rep. Monica Duran
    State Rep. Monica Duran, a Democrat from Wheat Ridge, is pictured in the House chamber as Republican lawmakers take turns attempting to pass amendments to her bill, House Bill 21-1106, on March 8, 2021. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

    A proposed Colorado law aims to ensure domestic violence suspects surrender their firearms when a judge grants a protection order against them.

    House Bill 21-1255, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Monica Duran of Denver and Matt Gray of Broomfield, would expand and clarify requirements that already exist in state law around relinquishing guns. After a judge issues a protection order against someone suspected of domestic abuse, the bill would require them to file a court affidavit stating the number, type and location of firearms in their control.

    If the person did not submit the paperwork within seven days they’d be subject to a compliance hearing.

    “Limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence-related protection orders is a commonsense health and safety measure,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement of support for HB-1255. “By clarifying requirements already in place, this bill takes important steps to help ensure that the firearm relinquishment process is fair, straightforward, and can help save lives of domestic violence survivors in our state.”

    A 2013 state law already requires some people to relinquish their firearms when a domestic violence-related protection order is issued against them. However, according to Weiser, Duran’s bill would close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by expanding the law to apply to unmarried current or former couples. It previously only included current or former married couples and domestic partners.

    HB-1255 “promotes compliance with state and federal firearms possession laws,” Duran said in an April 15 newsletter to constituents, “so that we can save the lives of so many victims of domestic violence, their children, and their families.”

    The risk of being killed by someone in an abusive relationship is five times higher if the abuser possesses a firearm, Duran noted. This statistic comes from a 2003 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

    HB-1255 passed the House Judiciary Committee on April 13, by a party-line vote of 7-4. The bill will get a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee before it goes before the full chamber for a vote.

    Republicans on the Judiciary Committee said the bill wouldn’t have the desired effects of reducing domestic violence and deaths, according to the Denver Post.

    Duran’s other firearm-related bill, House Bill 21-1106, was sent to Gov. Jared Polis on April 14. The governor was expected to sign it.

    HB-1106 would create a new class 2 misdemeanor for unlawful storage of a firearm. Under that bill, a person could be prosecuted for unlawful firearm storage if a young adult could gain access to a firearm without their parent or guardian’s permission; or if someone barred from having a gun lives on the premises where a firearm is not properly stored. To comply with the bill, a firearm would have to be kept on the lawful owner’s person or stored in a way that “a reasonable person would believe to be secure.”