Action On Ghost Guns Comes One Month After Governor Polis Signed Four Critical Gun Violence Prevention Bills
Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Volunteers Rallied At The Capitol, Testified At All Legislative Hearings, Traveled Across The State To Urge Lawmakers To Pass Critical Legislation
Colorado Governor Polis Signs Proclamation Declaring The First Friday In June To Be National Gun Violence Awareness Day In Colorado To Honor Victims And Survivors Of Gun Violence
DENVER — The Colorado chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements today after Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed legislation to address the threat of ghost guns — unserialized, untraceable homemade firearms, the building blocks of which can be obtained without a background check. Senate Bill 23-279 will ensure that all firearms are serialized, which will better allow law enforcement to trace firearms used in crimes. The legislation also bans machine gun conversion devices, which can be used to convert semi-automatic firearms into fully-automatic machine guns. Today’s signature marks the fifth piece of gun safety legislation the Governor has signed this session. Last month, Governor Polis signed four critical gun violence prevention bills into law.
Following the bill signing, Governor Polis signed a proclamation declaring the first Friday in June to be National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the state of Colorado, joining lawmakers across the country in taking this action to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence and to declare that we as a country must do more to end this public health crisis.
“Ghost guns have been a dream come true for criminals, and a nightmare for law enforcement — but now Colorado legislators are taking action to get these untraceable weapons off the street,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Colorado has shown the nation it’s possible to respond to gun violence with laws and action in addition to thoughts and prayers, and Governor Polis and state lawmakers are building on that legacy with this lifesaving bill.”
“Colorado continues to be a model for the important influence of grassroots organizing in our democracy,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Our volunteers and survivors of gun violence have been relentless in their advocacy in Colorado over the past decade, resulting in substantial progress on gun safety. This year has been no different. They have shown up and testified at hearings and sent thousands of calls and emails to lawmakers. Students have marched out of school and returned to the statehouse day after day to demand a better, safer future than their current reality – fearing for their lives in places where they should be focused on learning. And in response to their advocacy, Colorado lawmakers continue to listen and take action on our gun violence crisis. We thank Governor Polis and the gun sense champions in the Colorado statehouse for responding to our calls for change by passing strong gun safety laws that will save the lives of countless Coloradans.”
“Families across Colorado – like my own – are all too familiar with the devastation of gun violence,” said Connie Grieshaber, fellow with the Everytown Survivor Network. Connie’s father, Edward Flynn, took his life with a gun on August 2, 197. “Ghost guns, the weapon of choice of many criminals, are a substantial contributor to the gun violence epidemic, and today’s action will save the lives of other mothers’ children. We thank Governor Polis for taking gun violence seriously, and for his fierce stance on National Gun Violence Awareness Day.”
Ghost guns are one of the fastest-growing gun safety problems facing our country. Ghost guns are impossible to trace, and across the country, law enforcement officers are recovering increasing numbers of homemade, unserialized guns from people who are legally prohibited from having guns. More than 2,500 ghost guns were connected to criminal activity in 114 federal cases from 2010 to April 2020. ATF officials estimated that approximately 10,000 ghost guns were recovered across the U.S. in 2019.
Colorado has proven itself to be a leader in the gun violence prevention movement. Just in the last couple years, responding to high rates of gun violence and mass shootings, Colorado lawmakers have passed numerous measures to combat the gun violence epidemic.
In 2021, following the mass shooting in Boulder where 10 people were shot and killed, Governor Polis signed five pieces of crucial gun safety legislation into law. The measures included:
- Legislation to repeal the state’s burdensome preemption law and allow localities to adopt locally tailored solutions to gun violence and regulate where concealed handguns may be carried;
- Legislation to establish the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in the Department of Public Health and the Environment;
- Legislation to ensure that people with recent violent criminal convictions cannot access firearms by prohibiting people who have been convicted in the last five years of certain violent misdemeanor crimes, including assault, from purchasing firearms. The bill also closed the Charleston Loophole in Colorado;
- Legislation to require the secure storage of firearms when not under the control of the gun owner, and
- The Isabella Joy Thallas Act, which will require gun owners to report to law enforcement when a gun is lost or stolen.
In 2022, after testimony and advocacy from Colorado Moms Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors, lawmakers passed and Governor Polis signed a new bill to prohibit the open carry of firearms near polling locations and other electoral facilities. Lawmakers also rejected multiple dangerous gun bills that would have weakened gun safety protections during the legislative session after hearing testimony from volunteers.
During the 2023 legislative session, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers were at the forefront of advocating for the additional gun safety bills passed and signed into law,, attending and testifying at hearings, meeting with legislators, and advocating for these life-saving measures. In the wake of the mass shootings in Aurora in October, and another in Colorado Springs in November, Colorado lawmakers passed and Governor Polis signed five gun safety bills into law. In addition to ghost gun legislation, these bills include:
- Legislation to strengthen Colorado’s Extreme Risk protection law;
- Legislation to help hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable for their role in fueling the gun violence crisis;
- Legislation to raise the age requirement for firearm purchases to 21 years old;
- Legislation to create a mandatory firearm purchase waiting period.
Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and the beginning of Wear Orange weekend, June 3–4. For the ninth year, hundreds of thousands of people across the country will join together and wear orange to honor survivors of gun violence and demand a future free from gun violence and demand a future free from gun violence. So far, there are more than 400 #WearOrange events scheduled across 50 states and Washington D.C., featuring Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers, other gun safety advocates, elected leaders, community partners and more who will gather to honor the lives of those affected by gun violence and connect people with ways they can help to end gun violence in their communities. In addition to events, a coalition of cultural influencers, elected officials, corporate brands, nonprofit partner organizations and a series of buildings, billboards and landmarks will join advocates to honor National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange weekend.
In an average year, 930 people die and 466 are wounded by guns in Colorado. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Colorado, and an average of 79 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 51% are suicides and 45% are homicides. Gun violence in Colorado costs $2,039 per resident each year. Gun deaths and injuries cost Colorado $11.7 billion each year, of which $156.1 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in Colorado is available here.