2 new Colorado gun laws spark mixed reactions in Routt County
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Two bills tightening gun restrictions in Colorado recently signed by Gov. Jared Polis have drawn mixed views from Routt County residents, with some believing they are common sense safety measures and others calling them government overreach.
Senate Bill 78, renamed the Isabella Joy Thallas Act in honor of a 21-year-old woman who was shot and killed in Denver in 2020, requires a gun owner to report their lost or stolen firearm within five days or be subject to fines. The second, House Bill 1106, mandates that gun owners “responsibly and securely” store their firearms when not in use to prevent juveniles and other unauthorized users from accessing them. It also requires a licensed gun dealer to provide a locking device with each firearm sale or transfer.
Both bills had previously been under discussion, but the March 22 mass shooting at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder that left 10 dead created a greater sense of urgency, Polis said in a news conference.
“These are just the best practices for responsible gun owners,” said Catherine Carson, chair of the Routt County Democratic Party. “I would imagine that most local gun owners probably are already following these practices, but I think these are very good pieces of legislation because they’re important to our safety.”
While gun proponents did believe the laws were common sense, some felt they were a replication of laws already in place at a federal level and therefore an overstep of government power.
“All it does is add a feel-good layer to already existing laws,” Ken Constantine, owner of Elk River Guns in Steamboat Springs, said of the Isabella Joy Thallas Act.
A father of three, Constantine said he believes it is the responsibility of parents, not the government, to lock up their guns and keep them away from their children.
“… It’s my responsibility, not the state’s, to instill a respect for firearms and to get my kids to keep their bloody hands off of them without my permission,” he said.
Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said the onus of locking guns away should fall on the parents, but extra protection is important. He specifically referred to a 2016 incident in Stagecoach when an off-duty police officer’s 3-year-old son shot himself after his father’s gun was left out.
“Gun ownership is a responsibility and it’s sad that we have to have a law to remind people of that,” Christensen said. “I believe that if you own a gun, you should store it safely and store it in a way that won’t harm another person.”
As for the House bill, Carson said she hopes it will cut back on gun violence and mass shootings.
“On a national level, I think we can all agree that there’s too much gun violence and too many deaths by firearms,” she said. “Gun safety is not a political issue, it’s a safety issue, and we can work together on this.”
Christensen agreed with Carson, and added that a missing firearm should always be taken extremely seriously.
“If people have had a gun that’s been lost or stolen, we want to know, and we’ll put that into a national database,” Christensen said. “The idea is to get it into the computer.”
Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins was unavailable for comment Thursday.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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