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Waiting periods for gun purchases clear first hurdle at the State Capitol

This is an up close shot of  the sign outside of the State Capitol building with the an arrow and the state seal on the sign. You can see the capitol building out focus in the background.
Lucas Brady Woods
A new bill at the State Capitol, pictured here on Thursday, Mar. 2, 2023, would require a three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm.

The first high-profile gun bill of the legislative session moved forward at the State Capitol on Monday.

House Bill 1219 would require a three-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. If the bill is passed, waiting periods would begin when a gun seller initiates a background check on a buyer. Lawmakers are hoping a waiting period would help prevent impulsive acts of gun-violence like homicides and suicides.

“It is so that we can cut down on the amount of gun suicide, and we can cut down on the amount of gun homicide,so that more people will get to still be alive three days later, four days later, five years later,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, one of the bill sponsors.

The bill includes exceptions, including for some active duty military members and for the purchase of antique firearms.

Seller violations of the waiting period would be considered a civil offense, and would be subject to a $500 fine on the first offense and a fine of $500 to $5,000 for subsequent violations.

Republican lawmakers and gun-rights groups oppose the bill, saying it would infringe on Coloradans’ constitutional right to bear arms. Rep. Meg Froelich, another sponsor behind the bill, says it is not an attack on gun owners.

“We also have a lot of very, very responsible gun owners as part of our community,” Froelich said. “This bill isn't about those folks. This bill is about a proven technique, a proven measure that reduces both homicides and suicides and saves lives.”

The bill refers to a 2017 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found waiting periods reduced homicides by 17% and suicides by up to 11%. Opponents of the bill cited other studies, including one from the Rand Corporation, that show only moderate evidence that waiting periods bring down homicide and suicide rates.

Waiting periods are already in place in nine states and Washington, DC.

House Bill 1219 was approved by the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee along a party-line vote. It now moves to a preliminary vote on the House floor.

I’m the Statehouse Reporter at KUNC, which means I help make sense of the latest developments at the Colorado State Capitol. I cover the legislature, the governor, and government agencies.