Attorney General Phil Weiser testifies in support of legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers
April 13, 2021 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today testified before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee in support of House Bill 21-1255, legislation that would protect domestic violence survivors by helping keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.
The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, which Weiser chairs, found that 70 people died in domestic violence incidents in 2019 in Colorado, and gunshot wounds accounted for nearly two-thirds of those deaths. In a report released in 2020, the board recommended prohibiting domestic violence perpetrators from possessing firearms.
House Bill 21-1255 addresses this recommendation by expanding upon and clarifying procedures for the relinquishment of firearms by someone who has a domestic violence-related protection order issued against them.
“Limiting access to firearms for those subject to domestic violence-related protection orders is a commonsense health and safety measure,” said Weiser. “By clarifying requirements already in place, this bill takes important steps to help ensure that the firearm relinquishment process is fair, straightforward, and can help save lives of domestic violence survivors in our state.”
In 2013, the General Assembly moved to protect the safety of survivors of domestic violence by passing Senate Bill 13-197. That bill required some domestic violence offenders who are subject to a protection order stemming from an act of domestic or intimate partner violence to relinquish their firearms and refrain from possessing or purchasing firearms for the duration of the order. Since then, however, stakeholders identified aspects of the law in need of clarification, as captured in the Review Board’s 2019 report.
House Bill 21-1255 clarifies how and when respondents and defendants must act to comply with the relinquishment requirement, and specifies the courts’ role in monitoring for compliance, making the process simpler for courts, respondents, and law enforcement to navigate.
The bill also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by clarifying that the duty to relinquish firearms following a protective order applies not only to current and former spouses and cohabitants, but also to current and former unmarried couples. This extends current protections to cover all intimate partners subject to domestic violence protection orders, regardless of marital status.
The bill also prohibits those subject to the relinquishment requirement from transferring firearms to a private party living in the same residence. This provision is consistent with the core purpose of the relinquishment requirement—keeping firearms out the hands of domestic abusers who are subject to a protection order.