The Crestone Eagle • July, 2021

Colorado will expand background checks, create a gun violence prevention office & give local governments more authority on gun regulations

by Lisa Cyriacks

Colorado legislators enacted more gun regulation laws in the 2021 session than in the previous seven years.

Earlier this year, Governor Polis signed two new pieces of gun legislation in response to a mass shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado.  Those two laws require safe storage of guns in households with minors; and firearms owners to report lost or stolen weapons within five days. These are set to take effect on July 1.

By the end of the 2021 legislative session, Polis signed an additional three pieces of gun legislation into law.

Here’s a brief look at the three that were signed Saturday. They are set to take effect immediately.

HB21-1298 expands the requirements for background checks. The list of people who are not legally allowed to purchase guns for five years now includes certain violent misdemeanors: third-degree assault, sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, child abuse, violation of a protection order, a crime against an at-risk person, harassment, a bias-motivated crime, cruelty to animals, possession of an illegal weapon and unlawfully providing a firearm other than a handgun to a juvenile.

Persons selling guns without a completed background check could face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge.

SB 21-256 reverses a ban on local governments (towns, cities and counties) from creating their own gun regulations. Local jurisdictions, under the new law, can only make ordinances that are more restrictive than requirements under state law.

A person can only be penalized for violating local gun laws if they reasonably should have known about a local ordinance.

Any local ordinances that are more lenient than state law are effectively overturned with the signing of the legislation.

For consistency, requirements for concealed-carry are also restored to state requirements

HB21-1299 funds the newly created Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Three million dollars will go to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment in the first year to create the new entity. 

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention will coordinate and promote efforts to reduce gun violence. Tasks will include providing training and public awareness campaigns.

The new office can also provide grants to community organizations working on reducing gun violence, with an emphasis on organizations in high-risk communities.

One other gun bill, meant to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, awaits the governor’s signature.