Colorado governor signs bill allowing cities to set their own gun restrictions into law

Colorado Rep. Neguse says enough is enough after mass shooting in Boulder, calls for gun reform

Colorado governor Jared Polis on Saturday signed three gun reform bills into law. The new regulations come on the heels of a mass shooting in Boulder earlier this year.

Bill SB21-256 allows cities in Colorado to establish their own gun regulation, overwriting a previous state law that "prohibits a local government from enacting an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm." While the new law gives local jurisdictions more latitude to set their own gun control regulations, it does prohibit them from enacting regulations that are "less restrictive" than state law.

Ten days before the March mass shooting that left 10 dead, a Boulder County District Court judge blocked the city's ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The judge ruled that the 2018 law violated a previous law from 2003 that made gun regulations a state interest to prevent "a patchwork of inconsistent local laws involving firearms."

SB21-256 now makes gun control "a matter of state and local concern."  

Polis also signed legislation which will prohibit gun dealers from transferring firearms to another person who was convicted of specified misdemeanor offenses or who hasn't had a background check successfully completed. The third bill requires the Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Department of Health and Environment to conduct public awareness campaigns that "educate the general public about state and federal laws and existing resources relating to gun violence prevention." 

"Recent tragedies around Colorado and the country demand quick and decisive action," Polis said in a statement Saturday. "Together these measures will make our communities safer, keep firearms out of the hands of those who would do harm to themselves or others, and get those in crisis help as soon as possible."

On March 22, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, allegedly opened fire and killed 10 people in a Boulder grocery store and parking lot. A police officer was among the victims. Law enforcement said that Alissa legally purchased the semi-automatic Ruger AR-556 pistol that was used in the shooting only six days before the attack. He faces a total of 115 charges, including 47 attempted murder charges, and has a preliminary court hearing scheduled for September 7, according to CBS Denver

Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver told "CBS This Morning" in March that he supports a federal ban on assault rifles and that he thinks the shooting may have been avoided has one been in place. "The availability of assault-style weapons is too high," he said. 

Colorado Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg said that the newly signed legislation is a step towards creating a "framework that, over time, will result in saving lives."

"There's something that I think a mass shooting does to the psyche of a community collectively, even if you weren't individually involved or impacted and it really kind of disrupts the way you move through your daily life through your world," he said at a signing ceremony Saturday. "Although the topic of these three bills are about pain, and loss and trauma, I'm here today grounded in hope. I'm hopeful because step by step, bill by bill, we here in Colorado are creating safer communities."


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