Gun law affects domestic abusers

Vic Vela
Posted

Domestic violence offenders will find it more difficult to own or transfer guns under a bill that was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on June 5.

Senate Bill 197 places greater gun restrictions on people who either are convicted in cases involving domestic violence, or those who have been served with a court-issued protection order.

Prior to the bill being signed, Colorado law had already prohibited domestic violence offenders from having guns. The new law puts in place a system by which state courts ensure that offenders relinquish their weapons.

Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, a bill sponsor, said an incident from about 20 years ago motivated her to carry the bill. A former teacher, Hudak said that a student of hers was shot to death by an ex-boyfriend, who had a restraining order against him.

“I've wanted this to happen for a very long time,” Hudak said. “I think a lot of women and children will be safer because of this.”

Under the new law, persons who have received court-imposed protection orders must relinquish any firearms and ammunition in their possession for the duration of the court order. The same rules will apply to persons convicted of domestic violence cases.

They can then either sell or transfer their weapons to a licensed gun dealer or to someone who has successfully completed a gun background check. The weapon may also be given to a law enforcement agency for storage.

Before transferring a gun back to the offender, a firearms dealer or local law enforcement agency will be required to request a background check from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, to ensure that the person can lawfully possess the weapon.

The bill was part of a package of Democrat-sponsored gun-control bills that passed the Legislature and have been signed into law by Hickenlooper this year.

Republican lawmakers unanimously opposed the bill. Hudak's sponsorship of the legislation, along with her votes on other gun bills, led to a recall petition effort being waged against her.

That effort recently was suspended by recall organizers.