Skip to contents
Politics and Government

Colorado Democrats shelve effort to impose a gun-purchase waiting period this year

Even without the waiting-period measure, the 2021 legislative session in Colorado will be one of the state’s most significant with regard to gun control

Eagles Nest Armory gun shop seen on March 24, 2021, in Arvada. (Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)
  • Credibility:

Democratic state lawmakers have shelved efforts to pass a bill imposing a gun-purchase waiting period this year, as they had planned before the 2021 lawmaking term began.

State Rep. Steve Woodrow, a Denver Democrat, was slated to be the prime sponsor of the measure. He said the massacre at a Boulder King Soopers reshaped lawmakers’ gun-control plans this year and they decided to focus on other policies. 

“After the shooting we worked diligently to craft a package of bills that will have the most impact and that’s the package we’re moving forward with this session,” he said in a written statement. 

State Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial Democrat whose son was murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, said the waiting-period bill could be introduced at the Capitol next year.

“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “We’ll keep working on it.” 

Sullivan said lawmakers next year may also try to raise Colorado’s minimum age to purchase high-powered rifles. Currently anyone over 18 and older can purchase a rifle or shotgun while anyone 21 and older can purchase a handgun. 

State Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Aurora, joins other members and guests in the House chambers as the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly convenes at the Colorado Capitol on Jan. 8, 2020 in Denver. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Ten states and the District of Columbia have waiting periods that apply to the purchase of guns, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Hawaii’s law is the most stringent, requiring 14 days between when someone buys a gun and when they can take it home. In California, the waiting period is 10 days. 

Colorado lawmakers were debating implementing a waiting period of three to five days before deciding to shelve the bill. 

The waiting-period policy is mainly aimed at preventing suicides by making it impossible for a person to buy a gun and take their life in a matter of minutes or hours. The suspect in the Boulder shooting purchased a weapon six days before the attack.

The legislation was set aside so that lawmakers could focus on other pending gun-control bills at the Capitol. They were also still working out the bill language and didn’t feel there was enough time left in the 2021 lawmaking term to finalize the policy. 

This news first appeared in The Unaffiliated. Subscribe here to get the twice-weekly political newsletter from The Colorado Sun.

Even without the waiting-period measure, the 2021 legislative session in Colorado will be one of the state’s most significant with regard to gun control. Already, Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law a bill requiring that guns in homes with children or with people prohibited from accessing firearms be stored in a safe or with a trigger or cable lock, as well as another measure requiring gun owners to report lost and stolen weapons within five days of realizing they’re missing. 

Four other bills are making their way through the legislature. They include:

  • Senate Bill 256, which would allow local governments, public higher education institutions and special districts to enact gun-control policies that are more stringent than what is written in state law.
  • House Bill 1298, which would close the so-called Charleston loophole by requiring gun dealers to complete a background check on a gun buyer before transferring a weapon to them. The measure would also prohibit people from purchasing a gun if they have been convicted of certain misdemeanors within the past five years. 
  • House Bill 1299, which would create the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 
  • House Bill 1255, which would require people who are subject to a civil protection order because of domestic abuse to submit to a judge, within seven business days, an affidavit that includes a list of the type and number of firearms they own, as well as the location of any weapons. The legislation is aimed at ensuring that those charged or convicted of domestic abuse relinquish their firearms as required by law.

Democrats briefly considered pursuing a bill banning assault weapons in Colorado, but it didn’t appear there was enough political support among their ranks to pass such a policy. 

Colorado’s 2021 legislative session is set to end by mid-June.

The Colorado Sun has no paywall, meaning readers do not have to pay to access stories. We believe vital information needs to be seen by the people impacted, whether it’s a public health crisis, investigative reporting or keeping lawmakers accountable.

This reporting depends on support from readers like you. For just $5/month, you can invest in an informed community.