Colorado Senate lawmakers on Tuesday passed two gun-control bills along party lines, meaning they’ll soon head to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk for his signature.
A third gun bill passed by the Senate on Friday awaits one last vote in the House, where lawmakers must approve the Senate’s amendments before the legislation goes to the governor.
The two bills that passed in the Senate without changes include:
• House Bill 21-1255, which aims to ensure domestic violence suspects surrender their firearms when a judge grants a protection order against them. Sponsored by Democratic Reps. Monica Duran of Denver and Matt Gray of Broomfield, along with Sens. Sonya Jaquez Lewis of Boulder County and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood, the bill would expand and clarify requirements that already exist in state law around relinquishing guns.
“We must do everything in our power to protect victims by ensuring that perpetrators remain unarmed,” Jaquez Lewis said in a statement following HB-1255’s passage.
• House Bill 21-1299 — sponsored by Reps. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, along with Sens. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver — which would create a state Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The office would conduct research and support programs to combat injuries and deaths from firearms.
“With this bill, we are investing in community-sourced solutions that will combat the root causes of gun violence rather than its symptoms,” Hansen said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud of Colorado’s leadership on this issue and look forward to a day when gun violence no longer stalks our streets, haunts our homes, or terrorizes our public spaces.”
The bill awaiting a House vote:
• House Bill 21-1298, which would prevent gun sales without a completed background check. Its sponsors include Reps. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, and Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, plus Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Pettersen.
Under federal law, gun retailers must allow three days for the FBI to process someone’s background check before they can buy a gun. But if the check isn’t completed by then, the retailer is allowed to let them purchase the firearm. Gun-control advocates call this the “Charleston loophole,” because they say it’s how the perpetrator of a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, was able to obtain the gun he used to kill nine people.
HB-1298 aims to close the Charleston loophole by requiring a firearms dealer to obtain approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation before allowing someone to purchase a gun, and preventing the bureau from approving any gun sales without a completed background check.
“We’ve heard from people that survived being shot by intimate partners, from those who narrowly escaped the King Soopers massacre, and from parents who’ve lost children to drive-by shootings — all begging us to act,” Gonzales said in a statement. “This bill is in response to these stories.” A gunman on March 22 killed 10 people at a King Soopers in Boulder.
The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 21-14, with no Republican votes. In the House, it passed with all Democrats present in favor, and all Republicans opposed — except for House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, who said he accidentally voted yes.
“What this bill would do is expand the denial of rights to individuals who have been convicted of certain violent misdemeanors,” Taylor Rhodes, executive director of gun-rights advocacy group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said in a recent video message to supporters. He added that removing the three-day limit on background checks would “essentially open it to indefinitely.”
HB-1299, Rhodes charged, would create an office run “by a director that is extremely anti-gun. This would allow the state government to essentially lobby on behalf of you and I on our taxpayer dollars for gun control.”