Since Colorado passed a ban on magazines over 20 rounds and a “universal background check” requirement eight years ago, Democrats in control of the state legislature have gone back every year with another few items on their anti-gun wish list. One of this year’s priorities is a new gun control proposal that would require gun owners to keep their firearms locked up at home unless they’re in use, and the measure has already cleared a House committee and is headed to the full floor for a vote.
Democrats Monica Duran and Kyle Mullica, who are sponsoring the bill in the House, say the proposal is about “accident prevention,” but others say, intentionally or not, the legislation would empower criminals at the expense of gun owners.
“This bill is an egregious violation on our constitutional rights,” said Greg Trout at a committee hearing at the Colorado State Capitol on Monday. “It would give criminals an advantage when breaking into our homes and businesses. It gives them critical time to break through the door and perpetrate that crime.”
But, both Mullica and Duran argue this is not a gun grab or about infringing on anyone’s rights. Both lawmakers are gun owners themselves.
“I’m a gun owner,” Duran said. “I have a concealed carry permit.”
“I’m not only a gun owner and a hunter and a dad, I’m also an ER nurse,” Mullica said. “And so, I see gun accidents coming in. This is a common-sense bill. You talk to a majority of gun owners and they believe in safe storage. But the fact is — there are kids still getting hurt. There are kids still dying.”
I don’t think anyone’s calling this a gun grab, so it’s rather disingenuous of the Democrats to try to defend themselves against an imaginary accusation. As for infringing on people’s rights, that’s a different story. In the 2008 Heller decision, the Supreme Court not only struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban, but its storage law as well, ruling that the requirement to keep guns locked up at all times made it impossible for gun owners to use a firearm for self-defense in the home.
Mullica and Duran try to get around that Supreme Court decision by including a provision that wasn’t a part of the D.C. ordinance; as long as the firearm is on your person or “under your control” (a vague phrase that’s never defined in the legislation), you don’t have to have your gun locked up. In all other circumstances, however, if a gun isn’t stored in a safe or bound with a trigger lock you’d be in violation of the law.
I believe Duran and Mullica when they say that they’re pushing this bill in an attempt to cut down on accidental shootings or juveniles getting ahold of a gun when they’re not supposed to. Good intentions don’t automatically make good law, however, and this bill is still fatally flawed. It would impose a one-size-fits-all requirement for every gun owner in the state, regardless of whether or not there are even juveniles in the home.
These types of storage laws are most often enforced after an accidental shooting has taken place, which is also counterproductive if the goal is to prevent these types of incidents in the first place. Instead of trying to criminally sanction gun owners after the fact, wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to educate and inform gun owners about the best ways to safely store their firearms to prevent unauthorized access?
To my mind, that’s a far more common sense approach than trying to criminalize a gun owner who has a pistol next to her bed while she’s sleeping, which is what Duran and Mullica’s bill would do. Intentionally or not, the bill that they’re pushing would have a real impact on the ability of legal gun owners to protect themselves in their own home, while offering only criminal penalties instead of education on safe storage.
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