Colorado Passes Four gun Control Bills as State Reckons With gun Violence History – On Friday, the governor of Colorado enacted four gun control bills, marking a noteworthy step in a state with an extensive record of mass shootings, such as a tragic incident at an LGBTQ+ nightclub last fall that resulted in the loss of five lives. The passing of these bills comes at a time when states throughout the United States are grappling with a rise in violent crime and mass shootings, as well as a recent Supreme Court decision that broadened Second Amendment rights.
Colorado has implemented several measures, including increasing the minimum age for purchasing any firearm from 18 to 21, introducing a mandatory waiting period of three days between purchasing and receiving a firearm, and introducing a new red flag law. Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, signed these measures into law in his office and stated that the people of Colorado have the right to be safe in various settings such as their communities, schools, grocery stores, and nightclubs.
Despite late-night filibusters by Republicans, the Democrats have successfully passed new laws that aim to reduce suicides and youth violence, prevent mass shootings, and create pathways for victims of gun violence to sue the firearm industry, which was previously well-protected. These laws were enacted merely five months following a mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
According to Colorado Public Radio, there were 13 mass shootings in the state last year, with more individuals injured by mass gun violence than in any previous year. As Governor Polis signed each bill, lawmakers and citizens who supported the measures were moved to tears and erupted into applause. Colorado has a notorious history of mass shootings, dating back to the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
The Republicans criticized the bills, claiming that they would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Colorado residents and hinder their ability to protect themselves amidst an escalating statewide crime rate. Gun rights organizations filed lawsuits challenging two of the measures immediately after their enactment. Similar restrictions are already being challenged in court in other states. Mike Lynch, the Republican minority leader, lamented the situation and stated, “It’s a sad day for Colorado; we are becoming one of the most anti-second amendment states in the nation.”
One of the measures passed by the legislature enhances Colorado’s existing red flag law, also known as an extreme risk protection order. Another measure rolls back some legal protections for the firearm industry, permitting victims of gun violence to file lawsuits against them. Under the new red flag law, mental health professionals, teachers, and doctors, among others who work closely with youth and adults, will be able to request a judge to temporarily take away someone’s firearm to prevent them from attempting suicide or harming others.
Previously, this petition power was mainly limited to law enforcement and family members. The aim is to take proactive measures before an individual attempts to commit suicide or harm others. Colorado’s new law, which mandates a three-day waiting period between purchasing and receiving a firearm, is an effort to minimize impulsive violence and suicide attempts. This law brings Colorado in line with nine other states, including California, Florida, and Hawaii.