Colorado Gun Owners: Brace For Gun Control Fight In 2021

Colorado Gun Owners: Brace For Gun Control Fight In 2021

After a 2020 that felt more like the Twilight Zone than reality, there’s one good thing that happened: 2020 gun control legislation was DOA both in-state and federally.  But that’s all about to change.

Last year Colorado Democrats had only introduced two gun control bills when the legislature took an emergency recess due to COVID-19. When they returned months later to finish up what they considered “necessary business”, many legislative ambitions were no longer considered “necessary”.  This included a bill mandating locking up firearms and another bill making the reporting of lost and stolen guns mandatory. Although Democrats held the majority in both the State House and Senate, the margin in the senate was slim and they knew the passage wasn’t a slam dunk. After the November 3rd election, Democrats in the state picked up one additional state senate seat and the majority in the state house remained unchanged.

At the federal level in 2020, Republicans held a slight majority in the Senate while Democrats held a large majority in the House of Representatives.  Multiple pieces of gun control legislation passed out of the house only to never see the light of day in the senate, ultimately never making it to then President Donald Trump’s desk.  The November 3rd elections, and most notably the recent January 5th senate run-off in Georgia, changed the entire make up of congress, and the recent inauguration of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president sealed the deal. The senate now sits with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, making the tie breaker the new VP, Kamala Harris. In the house Republicans did pick up a number of seats but not enough to make up the large margin. Currently the party make-up in that chamber is 211 Republicans to 221 Democrats with three vacancies yet to be filled.

So what should we expect?

Colorado:

Colorado’s legislative session was set to begin on January 13, 2021 and run for exactly 120 days.  Due to COVID-19, Democrat leadership altered this timeline. On January 13th, legislators were sworn in and routine business was done; for two more days a few bills were passed that related directly to COVID-19 and then they recessed until February 16, 2021. At that time they intend to run for the remainder of the 120 days or possibly less. We are already aware of three pieces of gun control legislation to be introduced as soon as they reconvene:

• Mandatory waiting period between firearm purchase and possession – possibly 5 days. (Rep. Tom Sullivan and Rep. Steven Woodward)
• Mandatory “safe storage” of firearms. (Rep. Kevin Mullica)
• Mandatory reporting to law enforcement of lost and stolen guns. (Rep. Tom Sullivan and Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis)

It’s not unlikely we’ll see more gun control out of Colorado gun grabbers this session – the question remains what and when.

I’ve written about the last two proposals and you can read that here. I’ll be breaking down the mandatory waiting period in the coming days so keep your eye out for that.

A list of contact information of all of Colorado’s legislators can be found here.

Federal:

The 117th U.S. Congress gaveled into session earlier this month, and at least six gun control measures have been filed already with the House Judiciary Committee. Unlike the past couple years, these bills could land on the new president’s desk for signature if strategic pushback from gun owners doesn’t stop them.

Summaries of these bills are not yet available to the public at the time of this writing.

H.R.30 – To increase public safety by punishing and deterring firearms trafficking. (Rep. Bobby Rush, D-IL)

H.R.121 – To provide for the hiring of 200 additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and investigators to enforce gun laws. (Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX-18)

H.R.125 – To amend Title 18, United States Code, to provide for a 7-day waiting period before a semiautomatic firearm, a silencer, armor piercing ammunition, or a large capacity ammunition magazine may be transferred. (Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX-18)

H.R.127 – To provide for the licensing of firearm and ammunition possession and the registration of firearms, and to prohibit the possession of certain ammunition. (Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX-18)

H.R.130 – To require the safe storage of firearms and ammunition, and to require the investigation of reports of improper storage of firearms or ammunition. (Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX-18)

H.R.167 – To prohibit the transfer of a firearm at a gun show by a person who is not a federally licensed firearms dealer. (Rep. Al Green D-TX-9)

Stay tuned for more information as the full text of these bills becomes available and as more bills are filed.

A list of Colorado’s federally elected representatives and senators can be found here.

And in the mean time, buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

 

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Red Flag ERPO Critic and CO Sheriff Gets ERPO’d AGAIN By Jail Inmate

Red Flag ERPO Critic and CO Sheriff Gets ERPO'd AGAIN By Jail Inmate

On Februrary 25,2020 one of Colorado’s most outspoken critics of Colorado’s Red Flag ERPO law, Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, was red flagged using the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law – and it was an inmate who has been incarcerated in his jail since 2016 on serious drug trafficking charges who filed it – from jail.

That story was nuts.

And now it’s happened again, less than two months later.  Same inmate, new ERPO – from jail! 

According to a post on Reams’ Facebook page, on April 15, 2020 an Extreme Risk Protection Order petition was filed by inmate Leo Crespin against Sheriff Steve Reams, which is public record.  The inmate claims he falls under the law’s extremely broad definition of ‘household or family member’ by marking the box “I regularly reside or have resided with the respondent in the last 6 months”, citing that he lives in Reams’ jail.

In the body of the petition the inmate states that Sheriff Reams arms his S.O.G. officers with 12 gauge shotguns.  The Weld County jail S.O.G. (Special Operations Group) is responsible for maintaining order in situations involving enhanced security risk.  The “shotguns” they carry are actually devices that fire less-than-lethal projectiles and are only carried by the specialized team of officers.

The petition was immediately dismissed by district court Judge Vicente Vigil.

You can read the petition and the ruling in the images below, but it is along the same lines as the February ERPO that was filed.  Read all about that here.

 

 

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CO Governor Issues Exec Order Altering Concealed Carry Permit Requirements Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

CO Governor Issues Exec Order Altering Concealed Carry Permit Requirements Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Amid the recent widespread coronavirus meltdown, most counties in the state of Colorado have halted the issuing of new concealed handgun permits due to government agencies suspending all fingerprinting and other non-essential in-person contact in an effort to comply with public health directives. This included the required fingerprinting while issuing a new concealed handgun permit.

After several county sheriffs urged the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to put a temporary process in place to issue these permits, Colorado Governor Jared Polis included a section related to concealed handgun permits in Executive Order D-2020-029 which was issued on Monday, April 6, 2020. This section of the order alters the requirements to apply for and issue a concealed handgun permit under C.R.S. 18-12-205 by doing two things: suspending the in-person requirements, and eliminating the requirement that the sheriff must take two complete sets of an applicant’s fingerprints to submit to the CBI.  The order goes on to strongly encourage sheriffs to only issue a temporary emergency permit which would expire after 90 days as well as conduct a Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC)/National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check of each applicant. The governor is also encouraging sheriffs to revisit and reevaluate permits issued under this executive order once the health directives have been lifted.  It appears these are only suggestions and ultimately the process will be left up to the individual county sheriffs to determine on a community level.

Here is the related excerpt of Executive Order D-2020-029:

I.  I temporarily suspend the “in person” requirements related to the application and issuance of permits to carry concealed handguns (Concealed Handgun Permits) contained in C.R.S. §§ 18-12-205(2)(a), (2)(b), (3)(a), (3)(b), and (4)(a). I also temporarily suspend the requirement in C.R.S. § 18-12-205(4)(b) that a sheriff shall take two (2) complete sets of an applicant’s fingerprints to submit to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In assessing each Concealed Handgun Permit application, I strongly encourage sheriffs, in order to maintain safety through social distancing, to first consider issuance of a temporary emergency permit pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-12-209 (valid for an initial period of ninety (90) days) if appropriate, and second, to conduct a Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC)/National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check of each applicant to determine whether the applicant is eligible to possess a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) before issuing a Concealed Handgun Permit. During the effective period of this Executive Order, sheriffs may issue Concealed Handgun Permits pursuant C.R.S. §§ 18- 12-206 or -209 upon completion of the requirements of C.R.S. § 18-12-205, as modified by this Executive Order. Upon expiration of this Executive Order, I strongly encourage sheriffs to revisit and reevaluate permits granted under this Executive Order for compliance with all of the mandates in C.R.S. § 18-12-205.

With record breaking gun sales in the past thirty days, the limitations of the permitting process for those wishing to obtain a new conceal carry permit has created barriers, and we believe the better deregulation would be an executive order allowing for constitutional carry (allowing for open or conceal carry without a permit). Currently Colorado law only allows for the open carry of a firearm without a permit while conceal carry requires one.

But another barrier that still exists, even with the latest executive order, is the training requirement under C.R.S. 18-12-203(1)(h).  This statute requires the applicant to submit a training certificate from a handgun training class they completed within the ten years prior.  Although the executive order does suspend the requirement to submit the certificate in person, it does not change any of the training requirements – which explicitly requires in-person contact and makes clear online-only courses do not suffice.

According to C.R.S. 18-12-202(5)(III) the training requirement states:

(III)  A firearms safety course or class that is offered and taught by a certified instructor.
(b)  Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this subsection
(5), “handgun training class” does not include any firearms safety course that allows a person to complete the entire course:(I)  Via the internet or an electronic device; or
(II)  In any location other than the physical location where the certified instructor offers the course

This means that applicants MUST be in both close proximity to other individuals and at a place of business in order to obtain this training certificate, all while under the governor’s own stay-at-home order.

Although if the sheriffs are issuing Temporary Emergency Permits it does suspend the training requirement for 90 days.

Another slice of the governor’s most recent executive order is likely related to the backlog CBI is facing with the unprecedented amount of background checks on gun purchases that has created a wait time of several days.

This section of the order waives the requirement that CBI make a determination within 30 days on denied background checks when the transferree claims it was imporperly denied.  Although the order is only good until April 30th or until any extension is lifted, it’s unclear how long CBI would have after it’s lifted.

Here is the related excerpt:

K.  I temporarily suspend the requirement in C.R.S. § 24-33.5-424(5)(b)(II) that CBI render a
final administrative decision regarding the denial of a firearm transfer within thirty (30)
days after receiving information from the transferee that alleges the transfer was
improperly denied, to provide CBI with additional time to complete these duties in light
of the support they are providing to the State during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the
expectation that CBI will fulfill these duties as soon as practicable.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith has already put into place how his office plans to utilize the deregulation surrounding this executive order and concealed handgun permits.  According to a post on the Sheriff’s Facebook page, they do intend to run applicants through NCIC as well as complete fingerprinting once the health directives have been lifted.

If you would like to know how your county is handling this, please contact them and then report back to us.  We’ll keep on top of the situation.

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