Colorado Mandatory Firearm Storage Bill Advances

Colorado Legislature Introduces Mandatory Safe Gun Storage Bill

Safe Storage of Firearms (HB21-1106) sponsored by Representatives Monica Duran and Kevin Mullica along with State Senators Jeff Bridges and Chris Hansen, passed the House Chamber on March 9, 2021. It will move to the State Senate next.

During the house committee hearing, a few things became clear about this bill:

• Applies to homes with kids or prohibited persons. It was a little unclear if it would extend to if you had children or prohibited persons in your home but they don’t live there.
• The bill sponsors were unsure about if it included vehicles, so they had to get the bill drafter to ask him. He wasn’t even totally sure but didn’t think it did.

Here’s how they intend to enforce it:

• Via discovery of unlocked firearms through other police contact, such as if the police are in your home for other reasons…welfare check, ERPO’s, another crime committed.
• See Something, Say Something™ reporters, such as family or friends in the home who are aware there are unlocked firearms. They will be encouraged to turn you in.
• After an incident has already taken place.
• And we truly believe from the Mandatory Reporting of Lost and Stolen Guns via the accompanying bill, but that will be a conversation to be had for that bill hearing (which is Thursday, March 4 at 1:30pm and you can sign up to testify or reach out to the committee now).

Our take on this bill…

Privilege: This bill will disproportionately affect the poorest in society, essentially limiting the ability and right to self defense to those who can afford it or face being a criminal. A better option would be a bill that makes gun safes tax free. Or maybe “Daddy Bloomberg” could use his money buying gun safes for those those who can’t afford them. Or safes for all of us to keep in our cars to put our gun in when we go into his beloved gun free zones.

Constitutionality:

There are obviously some serious questions about what this law will look like and how bill sponsors plan to get around constitutionality.

Attorney Joseph Greenlee of Steamboat Springs has already written about this issue.  In a January 8, 2020 article for Complete Colorado he states:

“Safe storage” laws are unconstitutional because they prohibit immediate self-defense in the home. In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring that firearms be kept inoperable in the home, because it “makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.” A “safe storage” law is another “prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense,” and is unconstitutional for the same reason.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has placed strict limitations on the government’s ability to regulate private conduct within the home. For example, the sanctity of the home prevents government from criminalizing the in-home possession of obscene materials (Stanley v. Georgia), homosexual conduct within the home (Lawrence v. Texas), and the use of contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut).

Indeed, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the Constitution provides “protection against all governmental invasions of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life.” How Americans decide to store their arms inside their homes is therefore layers of constitutional protection beyond the reach of government.

Suicide:

A glaring hypocritical statement often made by the gun grabbers is in relation to suicide. According to the CDC, there were 725 firearm suicides nationwide in 2018 for children aged 17 and under, while for that same age group there were 923 suicides by hanging/suffocation.  Colorado’s teen suicide rate has increased by 58% in 3 years and not because of firearms.  In 2018 for ages 0-19 there were 95 total suicides in Colorado, 48 of those were by hanging and 47 were by all other means which include intentional overdose, firearm, and others.  Simply restricting access to firearms does nothing to address the suicide rate and will only push these teens toward other methods.  Until we get to the root cause of suicide, it will not stop.

That said, Colorado’s suicide rates matter and we should all care.  There are private organizations who already work with gun owners in crisis or who worry someone in their home may be in crisis.  Hold My Guns is a private group who is working to partner with FFL’s and police departments to offer a place people can store firearms during a crisis.  There are also multiple suicide prevention hotlines. And recently CU Anschutz unveiled an interactive map that shows out-of-home gun storage facilities for this exact reason.  WTTA.org also offers non-crisis support to gun owners.

And then there are the crisis lines:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255, or chat online
Veterans Crisis Line:  Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255, or chat online

Accidental Deaths:

Accidents are the result of negligence. Since 1993, gun-accident fatalities have fallen 74 percent. You’ll be hard pressed to find a metric the CDC is tracking that shows such a remarkable trend in the positive direction. For example, you’re fifteen times more likely to be killed as a pedestrian than you will because of a gun accident (2017: 7450 pedestrian vs 486 gun accident). And to make this fact even more remarkable, this reduction in gun accidents happened solely from within the gun community without any intervention from the CDC, the medical establishment, or law enforcement.

Gun owners—and by this I mean law-abiding gun owners since a non-law-abiding gun owner is by definition a criminal—have on their own recognized the need for enhanced gun safety, that alcohol and guns don’t mix, and the need for safe storage to prevent handling by children and to prevent theft. Years ago, safe storage was hiding your guns in the bedroom closet; today gun owners brag about their gun safes.

Don’t take my word for it as the John Hopkins School for Gun Policy and Research says that: “…gun owners who purchase a firearm legally, generally are even more law-abiding than your average person.”

There are also statutes within Colorado Child Abuse law that mandates consequences for parents whose children accidentally cause harm to themselves or others via firearms.

Enforcement:

It’s unclear how they intend to enforce this law, and right here in Colorado we’ve already seen that storage doesn’t stop criminals.  The perpetrators in the 2018 STEM School shooting busted into a gun safe using a crow bar and an ax.  They then took the guns to the school where they were stopped by an armed security guard after killing one student.

An accompanying piece of legislation has also been introduced: Mandatory Reporting of Lost and Stolen Guns. We can already see how they intend to use these laws together.  If you leave your gun in your car while you go into a gun free area such as your child’s school, and it’s stolen, as soon as you report it you will be asked why it wasn’t being “safely stored”, and criminal charges will ensue.  This will only mean less people will report their guns stolen out of fear they will punished.  Punitive laws don’t work. This bill will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 7th.

 

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