Background check expansion, Office of Gun Violence Prevention bills pass Colorado House

Politics
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DENVER (KDVR) — Monday was a busy day over at the capitol as lawmakers tackled gun control, mental health and police accountability all in day.

Bill HB21-1298 expands background requirements for firearm transfers. A person convicted of specific violent misdemeanor offenses, like sexual assault, cruelty to animals and child abuse, would be prohibited from buying firearms for five years. The vote was 42-21 in favor of the bill.

“Colorado is showing that we can do so much more than offer thoughts and prayers in the wake of mass shootings,” said bill sponsor Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. 

“Coloradans have been loud and clear in demanding action to curb the epidemic of gun violence that takes loved ones away from families far, far too often,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, a bill sponsor.

Bill HB21-1299 would establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention. The Office would provide education on existing laws and resources in the state, create a gun violence database and focus on gun violence prevention public awareness. The bill passed by a vote of 40-23.

“Colorado has made great strides in the area of gun violence prevention in the past few years, and especially the past few months,” said bill sponsor Centennial Rep. Tom Sullivan.

The bill allows the state to use $3 million to create the office, which passed the House after hours of debate Friday and Monday.

“We’ve talked about the impact of this violence in a bunch of different ways and a bunch of different ways, perhaps in a bunch of different agencies, but we’ve never been intentional in saying ‘we are going to address this problem in a way where resources are consolidated and, in a way, where we can be direct and target solutions,” said Denver Rep. Jennifer Bacon.

Another measure clearing the way for local governments to establish their own gun restrictions, cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.

Opponents of the gun measures said weapons are not the issue and the state can spend the money elsewhere .

“We could save the $3 million per year and just in the study that comes with bill by simply recognizing that we removed the 10th Commandment, we removed recognition of our creator from schools,” said Douglas County Rep. Mark Baisley.

Despite disagreeing about guns, House members all got behind a bill calling for one mental health exam to be covered by insurance companies every year in Colorado.

“Specifically, this bill and 1258, the Rapid Response for Youth Mental Health, looks to address how do we handle stress? How do we handle trauma? If we learn to handle our stress and trauma like we handle our fevers, we would be in such a better space and such a safer society,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet of Adams County.

A bill updating last year’s police accountability reform measure also passed its first vote in the house after a lengthy debate. It calls for body cameras to be used during welfare checks and de-escalation tactics to be used before physical force.

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