December 9, 2023
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in panic for a lot of people. That manifests itself through the stockpiling of certain items. For some people, it’s food or household products; for others, it’s guns and ammunition.
Reports out of Colorado Springs have detailed the increased sales of firearms throughout the state. Some gun retailers say their sales are four times greater now than they were one year ago. This has resulted in a shortage of ammunition as well.
Of course, every American has the right to bear arms, but Colorado is looking to change the way that people store their firearms and to create consequences for firearms that are not stored according to new laws.
The latest, HB 1355, is called the safe storage measure. Here’s what you need to know about it and how it can change the way you keep your guns if passed.
The Safe Storage Bill
The House bill before the Colorado state legislature would require gun dealers to distribute cable or trigger locks with every gun purchase or with any weapon transfer.
The goal of the legislation is to create a more secure and safe environment in the home and to protect those in the household from accidents related to the safe storage of firearms.
It is hoped that this bill would, if passed, have a positive impact on the rate of teen suicides and accidental shootings that involve younger children.
The bill contains the types of locking devices that would be required, such as biometric data locks, but the bill doesn’t dictate what kind of device should be used or that only one type of device should be used.
Proposed Penalties for Violations
If this legislation is passed and made into law, then it would impose penalties for any gun owner who doesn’t comply. They could be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines.
There are also some exceptions under the law if it is passed. It does not apply to antique guns nor does it apply to guns that are within arm’s reach, such as guns stored on bedside tables. Juveniles are also allowed under the law to use unlocked guns in cases where they must defend their livestock.
Safe Storage History
Colorado isn’t the first state to propose this type of law. In fact, states like New York, Connecticut, and California already have safe storage laws on the books.
These laws are meant to limit the accessibility of guns by those who shouldn’t be using them, such as at-risk teens, young children, or even thieves.
Since 2005, the federal government has had the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This Act makes it unlawful for anyone who imports, deals or manufactures handguns to sell or transfer one without a safety device or secure gun storage.
There are exceptions to this law, like transfers between law enforcement or local agencies, but the law does not apply to the transfer of handguns by private sellers. Transferees do not have to use a device either. There are currently no federal standards for locking devices on handguns.
Data on Guns in the Home
Studies have found that over half of gun owners have at least one weapon that is stored unsafely and many gun owners report that they store their guns unlocked in their home. Unsecured guns in a home present a risk to those that live there who may find them and accidentally injure themselves or someone else in the process.
“Moms Demand Action” Supports the Bill
Moms Demand Action, a gun control group, has supported the bill. They have stated that it has been found that safe gun storage laws help to reduce the risk of gun violence. An important issue since the group also notes that gun suicides in at-risk groups of teens and young children have increased in Colorado by over 60 percent between 2009 and 2018.
Finally, one of the biggest driving factors for safe gun storage is as a deterrent to theft. Leaving weapons that aren’t secured in vehicles or in homes makes it easy for people to steal them and then use them in the commission of another crime.
No gun owner wants to lose their weapon, much less have it used in a serious crime after it was sold on the black market.
If this law is passed it will mean changes for some gun owners, but the state plan to roll out an education campaign as well to help educate everyone on the importance of safe storage, which is hoped will create a safer environment for everyone.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020 and is Lead Counsel rated.