Law: Secure Storage of Firearms

We are not lawyers and nothing here should be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice please contact an actual lawyer.

Table of Contents

    tl;dr

    It will soon be mandatory in the State of Colorado to safely store your firearm in your home if you know a juvenile might be able to access it without permission or if someone who cannot own a firearm themselves is living in your house .

    Key Points

    This bill requiring secure storage of firearms will become law on July 1st, 2021 with punishments for offenses effective on and after this date.

    Preventing Unauthorized Access

    This bill compels firearm owners to secure their firearms in their own home in two cases:

    1. An unauthorized person is living in the house. An unauthorized person, in general, is someone who cannot purchase or own a firearm for legal reasons. Typical reasons include felony convictions, domestic violence misdemeanors, or active restraining orders. The person does not need to be related to you so this includes roommates as well. The bill specifies that this person must be a resident of the house, so guests do not require safe storage, although as a responsible gun owner and for everyone’s safety, you should still consider securing your firearm if you will have a guest in your house.
    2. A juvenile can gain access to to your gun without the permission of the juvenile’s parent or guardian. The important distinction here is that in this case, both residents of the house as well as guests are included. If you, as the owner of the firearm, know that guests with underage kids are visiting, it is always your responsibility to ensure that your firearm is secure to prevent them from gaining access to it. Now it is the law as well.

    What does it mean to be secure?

    This law determines that a firearm is “Responsibly and Securely Stored” when:

    1. The gun is on your person or reasonably within reach as to be on your person. This is to allow people to carry their firearm on them (either concealed or open) and acknowledges that a firearm carried in this way is under the control of the person responsible for the gun. This can include if the gun is not actually on you, but nearby and accessible while, including while you are sleeping. As always though, as a responsible gun owner, understand your particular situation and act accordingly. My daughters occasionally wake up at night and come into my bedroom. At their age (3 and 4), I do not leave my firearm unsecured at night. Instead I keep a bio-metric safe next to my bed.
    2. The gun is secured in a locked container such as a safe, locked gun case, or lockable drawer. Although we don’t advise this, a “locked container” can include keeping the gun in a locked room, as long as “a reasonable person would believe” it to be secure in there. If the gun is secured in a locked, you must also make sure that the key or combination to the locked container is not accessible to kids or unauthorized individuals for it to be truly considered secure.
    3. A locking device is installed on the firearm. In this case, a locking devices is any devices that prevents the gun from being fired. Common locking devices are trigger locks and cable locks which can be unlocked using a key, a combination, or with bio-metrics. As in #2 above, you must also make sure that the key or combination to the locking device is not accessible to kids or unauthorized individuals.
    4. The gun is a “personalized firearm”. This term “personalized firearm” is relatively new and refers to firearms that cannot be fired except by it’s authorized owner “as part of it’s original design”. The vast majority of people won’t fall under this category since this technology is incredibly new and untested. But there are firearms in development that have built in technology that unlocks the gun either through built-in bio-metrics or through an RFID bracelet or ring that the authorized owner would wear.
    5. Antique firearms are exempt from this law. Generally, antique firearms are defined as a firearm manufactured in or before 1898. See the links at the bottom for the full definition.
    6. An exception is made for a juvenile that may need to access the secured gun for self defense or the defense of livestock. Note however, that the firearm still has to be secured for this exception, and has been accessed to be used in defense. Also note that this only applies to juveniles and not prohibited individuals.

    Punishments

    If you are found to be in violation of this storage law it is a Class 2 Misdemeanor and is punishable by a maximum $500 fine.

    Bill Summary

    The following is the summary copied directly from the Colorado legislation page.

    The bill requires that firearms be responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users. The bill creates the offense of unlawful storage of a firearm if a person stores a firearm in a manner that the person knows, or should know:That a juvenile can gain access to the firearm without the permission of the juvenile’s parent or guardian; or

    A resident of the premises is ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law.
    Unlawful storage of a firearm is a class 2 misdemeanor.

    The bill requires licensed gun dealers to provide with each firearm, at the time of a firearm sale or transfer, a locking device capable of securing the firearm. Transferring a firearm without a locking device is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $500 fine.

    The bill requires the state court administrator to annually report to the general assembly about the number of charges related to unsafe firearms storage and the disposition of those charges.

    The bill requires the office of suicide prevention within the department of public health and environment (department) to include on its website, and in materials provided to firearms-related businesses and health care providers, information about the offense of unlawful storage of a firearm, penalties for providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a firearm, and the requirement that gun dealers provide a locking device with each firearm transferred. Subject to available money, the department is required to develop and implement a firearms safe storage education campaign to educate the public about the safe storage of firearms, and state requirements related to firearms safety and storage, and information about voluntary temporary firearms storage programs .

    Links

    Bill and Revisions: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb21-1106
    Final Signed Bill: https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2021a_1106_signed.pdf
    Antique Firearm Definition [18 U.S. Code § 921 (a)(16)]: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921

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