The Crestone Eagle • May, 2021

Governor Polis signs safe gun storage,  reporting requirements into law

by Lisa Cyriacks

Two new laws require safe storage of guns in households with minors; and firearms owners to report lost or stolen weapons within five days.

Effective July 1, Colorado gun owners will be required to store weapons in a gun safe or with a trigger or cable lock in households when the gun owner knows that a minor or a resident who is ineligible to possess a firearm can gain access. These requirements apply only if the weapon is being stored, not if the owner is carrying the weapon.

People charged with violating the new law could face Class 2 misdemeanor charges, which carries fines and, in rare instances, jail time.

The new law also requires licensed gun dealers to provide a trigger or cable lock with every firearm sold or transferred. Antique firearms are exempt from this
requirement. They also must post a conspicuous safe-storage notice.

Licensed gun dealers who don’t provide a locking device or post the required notice could face a fine of up to $500.

The law is intended as a common sense measure to avoid theft and misuse, preventing children and adults from doing harm to others or to themselves.

The second piece of legislation requires gun owners to report a lost or stolen firearm to law enforcement within five days of realizing the weapon is missing. Failure to report is a civil offense carrying a $25 fine. A second or subsequent infraction could result in a fine up to $500.

Hundreds of thousands of guns are stolen every year, the vast majority of which are stolen from private gun owners. Nationally it is reported that approximately 380,000 guns are stolen every year. 

Stolen guns undermine the enforcement of our gun laws and often end up in the possession of someone who was legally prohibited from having guns. Gun thefts also divert guns into an underground market where people with dangerous histories are easily able to obtain firearms without restriction.

Both bills were filibustered by House Republicans, and passed without a single Republican vote in either chamber.

Both laws were introduced before the deadly shooting in March at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder that left 10 people, including a police officer, dead. Both measures are also focused on reducing gun-related suicides.

The legislature is considering at least one more gun bill in this session. HB 21-1255, which received its first hearing last week, would strengthen a 2013 law to strip people charged with domestic violence of their guns.

Democrats have said they plan to introduce other gun legislation, but aren’t quite sure what that’ll end up being, though they’ve floated increasing the number of days in mandatory waiting periods, closing background-check loopholes and allowing local governments to have stronger gun restrictions than the state’s laws.

Colorado’s red flag law turned one year in January 2021. At least 112 petitions for extreme risk protection orders were filed under Colorado’s red flag law in 2020, and in 46 cases, judges granted permanent protection orders that required people to turn over their guns to authorities or blocked them from buying guns for 364 days, according to data provided by the Colorado Judicial Department. That’s fewer than the 170 petitions a year that legislative staff estimated would be filed.

A review of 30 denied petitions shows that judges often found the requesters didn’t show credible threats, were too vague, made procedural errors or failed to provide all the required information.

The red flag law passed in 2019 was the result of a lengthy legislative process that prompted marathon hearings and heated debates among lawmakers and law enforcement. Gun rights groups feared the law would be abused.