This has been an unprecedented year, and we’re not done yet. Here at the Capitol, my Democratic colleagues and I had to put a two-month pause on our legislative work due to COVID-19.
We’re back at the Capitol now, and we’re focused on passing legislation that helps Coloradans get back to work safely, directs support to hard-working families and small businesses and protects the health and safety of our communities.
Coloradans are looking for leadership during this crisis. For us this has meant making a lot of difficult decisions and letting go of bills that we’ve worked on for years.
Last week, I had to forgo one of my own bills — a proposal to promote the safe storage of firearms. Despite this setback, however, the fight for safe storage is far from over. The need for this bill is clear.
Gun suicide claims the lives of 23,000 Americans annually, including 1,100 children and teens. In 80% of youth suicides involving a firearm, the gun belonged to a family member. Every day, eight children are unintentionally shot or killed by a gun. This April, a 3-year-old girl died after her 7-year-old brother accidentally shot her at their home in Westminster, Colorado.
Let me make this clear: Most Coloradans who own firearms are responsible gun owners. While working on this bill, I heard hundreds of stories from our community of people who were scared about their young children accessing an improperly stored gun while playing at a friend’s house.
I also heard from hunters who told me about how they always keep their firearms locked in a safe, in order to keep them out of the hands of their grandchildren, and from law enforcement who talked about accidental shootings they have had to respond to.
We need to encourage gun owners to store their firearms responsibly in order to keep our communities safe. The safe storage bill would do just that. Safe storage simply means that firearms should be locked away so that minors or someone who is ineligible to possess a firearm do not have access to one.
Sixteen states and Washington D.C. have passed Child Access Prevention laws, which impose criminal penalties when a person fails to store a firearm securely. Several studies have shown that these measures can prevent suicide and unintentional gun deaths in children and teens by up to 54%.
Studies also point to the fact that just a small increase in safe storage of firearms could prevent close to a third of gun deaths by suicide or unintentional discharge.
Safe storage saves lives, and I know the people of Colorado are ready to see lasting change in their communities. While we plan to bring this bill back in the future, I encourage Coloradans to educate their neighbors and loved ones about safe storage practices.
I will never stop fighting for the safety of Coloradans, and I promise to make sure that gun safety remains a priority for this legislature.
Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, represents Colorado’s 24th district in the state House of Representatives.
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