In a Facebook post, Colorado State Representative Monica Duran announced that she has introduce a “Safe Gun Storage” bill along with State Representative Kevin Mullica. HB20-1355 Secure Storage of Firearms can be found here.
In Duran’s post, she states:
I am proud to be running Safe Gun Storage alongside Representative Mullica, being introduced today. Gun suicide claims the lives of 23,000 Americans annually, including 1,100 children and teens, making it a public health crisis in the U.S.
In over 80% of youth suicides involving a firearm, the gun belonged to a family member. Approximately 90% of suicide attempts involving a firearm end in death, compared to 4% for attempts not involving a firearm.
Every day, eight children are unintentionally shot or killed by a gun. A study found that households that locked both firearms and ammunition had an 85% lower risk of unintentional gun deaths compared to those who lock neither.
I look forward to improving public safety in our communities with this bill, and thank you to all of the advocates with Moms Demand Action who were able to join us today!
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.
A glaring hypocritical statement Duran makes 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
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.
Lastly, we will need to spend some time reading into the bill language to determine how they intend to enforce this law, as well as who will be required to own a gun safe. Will it be every gun owner regardless of whether or not they have children? That’s like saying every car sold must also include a car seat, regardless if the person purchasing the vehicle and car seat will ever need it.
In addition, we’ve already seen here in Colorado 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 is also expected to be 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.
Stay tuned for more information as we get it, including when these bills will be scheduled for public testimony. The easiest way to stay up to date is to subscribe to our email list and connect on social media. Click here to get connected.
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms must always be defended!
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