DENVER — On March 4, the Colorado Senate Judiciary committee voted 3 to 2 to help keep domestic violence victims safe. The legislation addresses domestic violence offenders who are prohibited from harboring firearms under federal law, and outlines a way for the offenders to relinquish their firearms.
“We need to address the lethal combination of domestic violence and guns. One of the gravest dangers women can face is an abuser with a gun. We need stricter timelines and the means to get weapons from abusers. This legislation is about protecting families from great risk,” said Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Westminster), the bill’s sponsor, along with Rep. McCann and Rep. Fields in the House of Representatives.
Under federal law, domestic violence offenders are prohibited from having a firearm if they are under a protection order to prevent domestic violence and/or have a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence conviction. SB 13-197 ensures that federal law will apply in every one of these cases in Colorado.
The legislation today (SB 13-197), outlines three ways for offenders to relinquish the prohibited weapons:
· Within 24 hours, if a protection order is served in court.
· Within 48 hours, if a protection order is served outside of court.
· Before he/she is released, if the domestic violence offender is in custody.
The offenders may relinquish the prohibited weapons in the following ways:
· Transfer the weapons and ammunition to a federally licensed firearms dealer.
· Store the weapons and ammunition with a law enforcement agency. The agency is allowed to charge a fee.
· Transfer the weapons and ammunition to a private person, but the transfer must be accompanied by a background check.
Statistics prove that victims are twelve times more likely to be killed when a firearm is present during a domestic violence occurrence. Nineteen states have already recognized this risk and passed laws allowing police to confiscate weapons from domestic violence offenders. Colorado will be the twentieth state with similar laws.
SB 13-197 now goes to the Senate Appropriations committee.