A bill that would require people to safely store guns in their homes and another requiring people report lost or stolen firearms within five days cleared their first hurdles in the Colorado Legislature this week.

The Democratic-backed proposals moved forward after at least one late-night hearing and without Republican support; one is headed to the House for a vote and the other the Senate.

Here’s a look at the measures and arguments for and against them.

Gun storage

Democratic lawmakers are looking to mandate that firearms that could be accessible to children, teenagers or adults living in the home who shouldn’t have access to a gun be securely stored when not in use. If that’s found not to be the case, gun owners could face a Class 2 misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Any sale of new or used guns would have to come with a trigger or cable locking device that would keep a gun secure unless disabled, or violators could face an unclassified misdemeanor charge, carrying a fine of up to $500. The bill also requires the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention to develop a safe storage educational campaign.

Bill sponsors said it’s less about proactive enforcement and more about promoting responsible gun ownership, particularly considering increasing rates of youth suicides and accidental shootings. Several Colorado medical professionals who testified Monday in front of the House State, Civic and Military Affairs Committee recalled instances of young patients involved in accidental shootings.

“The vast majority of gun owners are responsible law-abiding citizens,” Democratic Rep. Monica Duran of Wheat Ridge said. “They already store their gun safely, but like these tragedies have shown us, some still do not and it costs lives.”

Duran cited data by Colorado Ceasefire that showed 836 Coloradans, 74 of whom were children and teens, died due to firearms in 2019. Since 2015, there were at least 21 unintentional shootings by children, she said.

The measure does provide an exemption for those who are carrying guns or if a gun is in close proximity, as well as a defense in court for teens who use a gun to protect themselves or livestock.

“Let’s be clear: This bill is about one thing and one thing only, and that is about protecting our children,” said sponsor Rep. Kyle Mullica, a Northglenn Democrat and gun owner. It’s not a “gun grab or a way to track gun owners,” he said.

During the hearing, opponents cited constitutionality concerns. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents 9,000 firearms retailers, manufacturers and distributors, called it an unnecessary measure. And at least one gun rights advocate and the gun rights advocacy group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners said the bill makes it harder for lower-income families, including those who already own guns and can’t afford to buy locking mechanisms.

Nephi Cole, director of government relations-state affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said its retailers already sell trigger locks with “virtually every firearm sold in the United States of America” and accidental firearm deaths have declined 44% since 1999 to less than 1% of accidental deaths in the U.S.

“We believe that people are making good decisions,” Cole said. “We believe that individuals should be allowed to continue to do so.”

But researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine told committee members that from 2014 to 2019, Colorado children are increasingly injured by firearms, averaging about one per day.

And Dr. Maya Haasz of Children’s Hospital Colorado noted that more than 90% of those who attempt suicide by firearm will die, many of which are a result of an impulsive decision.

But federal law already requires selling gun locks with any handgun, Tim Brough, the owner of Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply in Fort Collins, told The Denver Post in an interview. He also added that handguns from manufacturers often come with a locking mechanism.

Most stores have gun locks available for long guns, and his shop provides locks to customers for free with gun purchases. The new law would require them to make sure they have more readily available, he said, but usually they can be purchased for $10 or less.

“It wouldn’t change our operations much,” he said.

Other supporters of the bill at the committee included gun safety advocates, including the mother of two students who survived the 2019 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Elaine Thompson, The Associated Press

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, gun shop owner Tiffany Teasdale demonstrates how a gun lock works on a handgun in Lynnwood, Wash.