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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs pair of gun bills affecting storage of weapons in cars, investigations

Hundreds of Colorado educators and students demand that elected leaders take action to keep schools safe during a rally at the State Capitol in Denver on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post/TNS)

Gov. Jared Polis signed two gun-reform measures into law Wednesday that will tighten requirements on the storage of firearms in vehicles and bolster funding to investigate gun crimes in Colorado.

“If you’re going to be a gun owner, then we need to make sure we are responsible gun owners,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields, an Aurora Democrat who co-sponsored the vehicle storage bill, at a bill-signing ceremony.

Under House Bill 1348, gun owners must store any firearms kept in their vehicles in locked containers, out of plain view. A locked glove compartment or center console qualifies under the law. Violating the statute is a civil infraction, punishable only by a small fine. The law kicks in Jan. 1.

Other bill sponsors were Democratic Reps. Lorena Garcia and Elizabeth Velasco and Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis.

Debate about the new law’s penalties had divided House Democrats and some of their colleagues in the Senate, briefly throwing the measure into limbo amid broader disagreements over criminal sanctions. After a House committee killed a bill to tighten penalties on firearm thefts, Senate Democrats amended the vehicular storage measure to tack on some of the dead bill’s elements.

But the House rejected that idea, and the bill’s Democratic sponsors eventually settled on the civil infraction provision.

The measure was part of Democrats’ broader gun-reform efforts this year. Shortly before Polis signed House Bill 1348 on Wednesday, he also inked Senate Bill 3, which directs more than $1.4 million to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Most of that money will go toward investigating illegal gun sales.

The intent of the bill, supporters said, was to ensure that other gun-reform measures — including a ban on high-capacity magazines — were being adequately followed.

“Our bill is really about enforcement,” Rep. Meg Froelich, an Englewood Democrat, said Wednesday. “And really, the enforcement piece is the culmination of decades of work on gun-violence prevention.”

She sponsored the bill with fellow Democrats Sen. Tom Sullivan and House Majority Leader Monica Duran.

Polis signed Senate Bill 66 into law in early May. That bill puts a specific merchant code on the sale of ammunition and firearms, allowing for improved tracking of those transactions. Three other gun reform measures — covering state licenses for dealers, tighter requirements for concealed-carry training and limitations on where guns can be carried — all passed the legislature and await his signature.

Two Democrat-backed gun measures died in the last days of the session. One would have enacted a ban on the sale or purchase of certain high-powered semiautomatic firearms referred to as “assault weapons,” and the other would’ve required gun owners to carry liability insurance.


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