More Legislation Like Colorado’s Red Flag Law Could Affect Rates of Domestic Violence

Supermajority Education Fund

December 4, 2019

In April, Colorado governor Jared Polis delivered a win to gun control activists in the state by signing House Bill 1177 into law. The “red flag” bill allows those concerned about a gun-owner who might be dangerous to themselves or others to petition the Colorado court for a temporary extreme risk protection order (ERPO), which could result in their firearm being removed from them, beginning on January 1, 2020. 

While this legislation is a step forward for the Centennial State, Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, who championed the bill, told the Denver Post that he wants to keep introducing new bills that will create change over time. 

Gun violence “should be something that we discuss on a regular basis,” Sullivan told the newspaper. “You should see one or two of these types of bills being brought forward, year after year after year, so that collectively, after five or six bills, we’ve tightened things up.”

Sullivan, whose son, Alex, died in the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 said that he knows he’s going to get pushback from continuing to advocate for gun control. But he also knows he has support from his peers. 

“I’ve made it clear to my colleagues that I will be standing up for this, and that I’m welcoming their participation as well,” he said. “Many of them are joining me in starting to put together bill titles, in wanting to be involved.”

Stricter gun control laws could have a particularly important impact on women. As Everytown for Gun Safety reported in October, an average of 52 women a month are shot and killed every year by an intimate partner. 

The organization noted that legislation, such as bills that close the boyfriend loophole—which bars those convicted of abuse, assault, or stalking from owning firearms—will help decrease these high numbers of deaths. Right now, those federal gun laws only extend to those who are married and do not apply to domestic partners or boyfriends. 

Sarah Burd-Sharps, Director of Research at Everytown for Gun Safety, told Supermajority News that, “our nation’s weak gun laws have fueled the gun violence crisis we’re facing, and gun-related domestic abuse is no different. The federal laws that prohibit domestic abusers from buying and having guns have deadly loopholes. These loopholes allow many abusive dating partners and convicted stalkers to possess firearms.”

But, Burd-Sharps, added, “the good news is, we know how to fix it. The research clearly shows that when we pass and enforce laws that close these loopholes and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, we save lives.”