Denver, Colorado – Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, legislators in Colorado have postponed voting on proposed bills including House Bill 20-1355 which seeks to make it a crime not to keep firearms properly secured.
Democratic state representative Kyle Mullica, who is leading the charge in passing this law, says punishment isn’t the objective of the new bill.
“The goal for us is to create as safe of an environment as we can in the house if there is a firearm present. The goal is not to necessarily punish people. The goal is to create that safe environment and to prevent accidents from happening.”
Gun rights activist are opposing the bill saying it turns the victim into an offender.
Former Colorado state senator Greg Brophy, told the Colorado Sun:
“On safe storage, you’re basically criminalizing a law-abiding gun owner’s right to self-protection. On the mandatory reporting bill, I think this is probably the only instance I can think of where a victim of a crime becomes a criminal if they don’t go and do something after the fact. And that’s just wrong.”
If HB 20-1355 passes the appropriate channels and is voted in after law makers get back to work, citizens who own firearms must keep them stored in a way the meets with the requirements of the new law.
For the average citizen, their firearms will be considered unlawfully stored if:
“… a person stores a firearm in a manner that the person knows, or should know:
- That a juvenile can gain access to the firearm without the permission of the juvenile’s parent or guardian; or
- A resident of the premises is ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law.”
If prosecuted for this infraction, a class 2 misdemeanor is leveled against the citizen who may have to pay a fine and spend up to 364 days in jail. Though it wouldn’t be considered a violation of the law if the child who accessed the weapon did so for reasons of their self-defense, or in defense of livestock in danger from natural predators.
Firearm dealers will be required to supply their customers with a “locking device capable of securing the firearm.” Most often this comes in the form of the cable locks usually supplied with the firearm on purchase. Failing to do so will result in a fine not to exceed $500.
Additionally, the bill seeks to set aside funds for the Colorado Department of Public Health, “… to develop and implement a firearms storage education campaign to educate the public about the safe storage of firearms and state requirements related to firearms safety and storage.”
Arguments in favor of the new law say it will make it harder for children to injure themselves and others, and reduce the number of firearm related suicides.
Arguments against include problems with accessing home defense weapons quickly enough in an emergency.
“If somebody feels like that’s burdensome to go back and forth to their safe every night if they want to protect their family, me, personally, I’ll take that burden to make sure that my children are safe,” Rep. Mullica said. “I think the safety of our children is worth that little burden that you may have.”
One bill accompanying the proposed law, HB 1356, requires a citizen who has been the victim of the theft of their gun, or has lost the weapon, to notify law enforcement within 48 hours of its loss.
Failing to report the lost or stolen weapon to the authorities is a $25 fine for the first offense, and a class 3 misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.