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Final gun bill from 2021 session goes into effect

Pat Poblete - Colorado Politics  | Published on 11/26/2021
A bill approved by state lawmakers in April requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons goes into effect on Tuesday, the final piece of gun-related legislation passed during a record-breaking session for firearm bills to begin carrying the weight of law.

Under Senate Bill 78, firearm owners are required to report to law enforcement within five days of learning their gun has been lost or stolen. The relevant information in the report would include model, serial number, caliber and manufacturer, if known. Failing to report would merit a $25 fine for the first incident and would be a misdemeanor crime on subsequent occasions with a fine of up to $500.

The measure from Democratic Sens. Sonya Jaquez Lewis of Longmont and Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Reps. Tom Sullivan of Centennial and Leslie Herod of Denver passed on party line votes in both the House and Senate.

The so-called Isabella Joy Thallas Act – renamed late in the legislative process to honor a Denver woman murdered with a stolen gun in 2020 – is one of 169 pieces of legislation passed during this year’s legislative session that go into effect on Tuesday, which marks 90 days since the legislature has adjourned.

It was also one of a pair of gun bills that moved through the General Assembly midway through in the 2021 legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in early April in the wake of the mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers. The other piece of legislation, House Bill 1106, requires safe storage of guns and went into effect in early July . Rep. Don Valdez, D-La Jara, was the only lawmaker to buck the party line, voting with Republicans against that bill.

Democratic lawmakers also passed a trio of gun bills proposed in the aftermath of the King Soopers shooting. Those include:

House Bill 1298 from Reps. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, and Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, and Sens. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, which expands and tightens background check requirements
House Bill 1299 from Sullivan, Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, and Sens. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention
Senate Bill 256 from Sens. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Reps. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, and Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada, which lifts Colorado's ban on local governments passing stricter gun laws than the state's
All three of those bills contained safety clauses, meaning they went into effect immediately after being signed into law by Polis in June.

The final gun bill from the session, House Bill 1255 from Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, and Jaquez Lewis and Pettersen, is aimed at strengthening Colorado’s process to get firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers. That piece of legislation also included a safety clause but some elements of the bills involving the state court administrator don't go into effect until next year.

Those bills mark a stark departure from what has become standard operating procedure for state lawmakers in Colorado, who have largely been cautious to take up legislation on guns over the course of the past decade.

Prior to this year’s session, the last substantive gun-related policy to be signed into law came in 2019 with the so-called “red flag” bill backed by Democrats. Going back to 2011, it’s twice as likely to find a legislative session without a bill on guns signed into law than to stumble across the sessions in 2019, 2014 (Senate Bill 135) or 2013 (Senate Bills 195 and 197 and House Bills 1224 and 1229).