Nov 25, 2013 12:04 PM by Bill Folsom
The debate over gun laws in Colorado is heating up again as the New Year and a new legislative session nears. One of those laws likely headed for a redo is one that's intended to protect victims of domestic violence from gun crimes.
In a lawmaking year known for gun legislation, one bill requires anyone accused in a domestic violence case to turn over weapons and ammunition within 24 hours of an arrest or court order. Some, like Janet Kerr with TESSA, who speak for domestic violence victims, see a new tool. "I felt really encouraged when this legislation was introduced last year," says Kerr.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa and many other sheriffs were critical. Still the law passed.
The options for the accused:
-Sell or transfer guns to a federally licensed dealer.
-Arrange for storage with a law enforcement agency
-Transfer to a private party "if" a criminal background check is completed.
Many involved in enforcement say elements of the law just aren't practical. One example, storage at gun dealer or law enforcement agency. "Law enforcement pretty much does not want to assume the liability, does not want the added work load of monitoring," Maketa says.
Also questionable, turning the gun over to a private party, which could be family member or friend. Kerr says, "for safe keeping, but then how safe is it? Do they have easy access to it? Maybe they can sell it but they likely can't sell it within 24 hours."
And an issue not addressed in the law. A legality called "marital property," meaning husband and wife share ownership. That's a problem, according to Maketa. "Either I'm in fear of my life and I have a right to defend myself or I'm 50% owner of those firearms and you're not taking them."
To Kerr and those in her line of work, they have serious concerns. "If the law can't be practically implemented then it really hasn't done the job we hoped it would do," says Kerr.
All involved agree domestic violence is unacceptable, but so far the effectiveness of this law is questionable.
Sheriff Maketa is part of a lawsuit filed by a group of Colorado sheriffs challenging several of the gun laws passed during the past session, but this domestic violence law is not part of that lawsuit.