Each new year means law-abiding gun owners in Colorado need to be on the lookout for the latest assault on the Second Amendment. You may have seen discussions about bills that could affect your gun and self-defense rights.
Though Colorado laws related to firearms did not change much over the past year, the state legislature continued to propose additional regulations in 2020, a trend that is expected to continue through 2021 and beyond. The Colorado General Assembly convened on January 13, 2021, for the First Regular Session of the Seventy-third General Assembly. However, due to COVID-19 precautions, the legislature met for only a few days before “pausing” until at least February 16, 2021. The following provides updates regarding previous proposals, expectations for future legislation in the upcoming 2021 session, and other related matters in the Colorado court system.
Legislation Passed in Colorado
- HB19-1177 – One bill that became effective January 1, 2020, was the Extreme Risk Protection Order law, colloquially known as the “Red Flag Law.” This law created the ability for a family, household member, or a law enforcement officer to petition a court for a protection order prohibiting an individual from possessing firearms while the order is in effect. If a temporary restraining order under this law becomes final, the firearm prohibition remains effective for 364 days.
Legislation That Did Not Pass in Colorado Last Year
- HB20-1355 – This bill was proposed but ultimately did not become law. It would have created a criminal offense for a person to store a firearm in a manner that the person knew, or should have known, that (1) a juvenile could gain access to the firearm without the permission of a parent or guardian, or (2) a resident of the premises where the firearm was stored was ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to state or federal law. This bill would also have required any licensed firearms dealer at the time of sale or transfer to provide a locking device capable of securing each firearm sold or transferred. Finally, this bill would have required the department of public health and environment to develop a firearms storage education campaign. Though this bill was not signed into law, safe storage of firearms is an issue expected to be on the legislature’s upcoming agenda.
- HB20-1356 – Similar to the prior safe storage legislation, this bill was introduced but did not become law. This bill would have required all firearm owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm to a law enforcement agency within 48 hours after discovering that the firearm was lost or stolen. Failure to comply with these reporting requirements would have been a criminal offense under this bill. The legislature will likely readdress this topic soon.
Colorado Case Law
- Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Jared S. Polis – On June 29, 2020, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld HB-1224, Colorado’s large-capacity magazine ban, after gun rights advocates brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the Colorado statute which prohibits the possession and sale of magazines capable of accepting more than 15 rounds of ammunition.
- The People of the State of Colorado v. Mosely – This is a criminal case currently under consideration by the Colorado Supreme Court that will address a prosecutor’s burden as it relates to self-defense. Under Colorado law, a person is not justified to use force if one of a number of exceptions applies. In this case, the Colorado Supreme Court will address whether Colorado jurors must unanimously agree as to which exception applies for a prosecutor to successfully disprove a claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court has not yet issued a ruling.
Federal Proposals on the Horizon
Last session, the 116th U.S. Congress proposed assault weapons bans, red flag orders, mandatory reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement, and countless other anti-2A legislation. All of these individual proposals were awful, but none were worse than the omnibus HR 5717 (Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020), which would have incorporated the worst provisions of each of these proposals. If you want a preview of what anti-gun bills filed during the 117th Congress could look like, pay attention to HR 5717. The 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2021, and their term ends on January 3, 2023. To learn about how federal law is made, check out The Legislative Process by the United States House of Representatives, and stay tuned. We are keeping a close watch for bills and resolutions that would affect Second Amendment rights.
For more information about 2021 legislation that could impact your rights as a law-abiding gun owner, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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