DENVER – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed two bills Monday aimed at bolstering gun security in the state, with the hopes they will cut down on both accidental and purposeful shootings.
The two bills, SB21-078 and HB21-1106, are the first major firearms legislation signed into law since Polis signed Colorado’s extreme risk protection order measure, commonly known as the red flag law, into law.
Sponsors of the two measures and the governor called them “common sense” laws during Monday’s bill signing and said they hoped the measures would cut down on gun violence and suicides among younger people.
Polis signed SB21-078, which was renamed the Isabella Joy Thallas Act in honor of a young woman shot and killed in Denver last year – allegedly by a man who took a firearm from a Denver police officer he knew.
Thallas’ mother, brother, sister, grandmother and Darian Simon, her boyfriend who was walking with Thallas in Denver’s Ballpark neighborhood last summer when both were shot, were all in attendance for the signing of the bill named in Isabella’s honor.
Ana Thallas, the mother of Isabella who testified in favor of the measure that now bears her daughter’s name during the committee process, said “this was deep calling to deep” regarding when bill sponsors reached out to her.
“After I reviewed the bill, it made sense to me. Common sense,” Thallas said. “Unfortunately, as we all know, common sense is not always so common. So, I fight – not just for Isabella, but I fight for the other people in Colorado because it’s not just about her. It’s about (her son) Jacob, when he goes to school and his school might be next. The grocery stores, the malls – the gun violence is out of control. Somebody has to do something. But what saddens me and hurts the most is that it takes a mother of a murdered daughter to stand up and speak and try and make a change and a difference in this state.”
“From the beginning, I said I would not let my daughter’s death go down in vain,” she added. “Here I stand.”
The Isabella Joy Thallas Act requires people who lose or have a firearm stolen to report their weapon is missing to a law enforcement agency within five days of noticing it was missing.
Failure to do so would lead to a $25 fine for a civil infraction, while second or further violations would be classified as a misdemeanor punishable with fines of up to $500.
Law enforcement agencies that receive such reports would have to enter any descriptions of the guns they receive – including manufacturer, serial number, model, caliber and more – into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Crime Information Center database within five days.
The law takes effect 90 days after the General Assembly adjourns. Lawmakers have said these two bills are just the first of what they would like to bring up and get passed this session.
“We will do every single thing we can to make sure we keep our community safe and stop this public health crisis going on in the state of Colorado,” said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Denver.
Polis also signed the safe storage for firearms bill, which would require starting July 1gun owners to use a gun safe, trigger lock or cable lock when someone who is ineligible to possess a firearm could access the gun or guns.
Said safes or locks would not have to be used when a firearm is carried by a person, if the firearms are kept in a “secure container or in a manner that a reasonable person would believe to be secure” and the juvenile or person not allowed to possess a gun do not have access; or if the firearm is an antique.
Not storing firearms in accordance with the law will be a Class 2 misdemeanor. Licensed gun deals would also have to provide a locking device for the weapon at the point of sale or transfer, and failure to do so would be an unclassified misdemeanor.
The measure also creates an education campaign on how to properly store firearms. Polis called the bills “sensible measures to help avoid immeasurable heartbreak.”
Sponsor Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, said the bill was about targeting gun owners who do not already safely store their firearms and preventing those weapons from getting into the hands of kids, explaining that while gun-related suicide attempts among teenagers account for about 4% of suicide attempts, they result in about 40% of suicide attempts that are successful.
“It’s common sense, aimed directly at the problem we’re trying to solve,” Bridges said. “It’s one of the most effective things we can do to reduce accidental deaths among our young people and deaths due to suicide.”