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Colorado puts firearm regulation in the hands of local government

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2021 | Criminal Defense

In the past, Colorado had a preemption law. This law essentially meant cities could not enact gun regulations that were stricter than state regulations.

That preemption law was overturned in June. As a result, communities can now pass laws, ordinances, and regulations at a more local level. This can include laws that prohibit the sale, purchase, transfer, or possession of a firearm or ammunition as well as any component or accessory. The law does not allow for a local government to pass an ordinance that would result in lower restrictions then present at the state level, only increased restrictions.

Few states have similar rules. They include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, and New York.

What happens if I am in violation of one county’s laws?

Critics of the new approach note that a big concern is the fact that this will result in a patchwork of laws. It is hard enough to know exactly what the law is at the state level. As a result these critics note that confusion will result when each community has its own rules.

So what happens if an individual is following the laws in their community and crosses over into another county that has a stricter approach? The law states that the locality can only pursue a penalty if the individual “knew or reasonably should have known” of the law.

Who can enact increased gun restrictions at a local level?

The law allows local governments to enact stricter local laws when it comes to gun regulation. Governing boards of higher education institutions, like colleges and universities, can also enact rules about concealed handguns within their jurisdiction.

What are the penalties for violating these laws?

At this time, the penalty is a civil penalty and should not be more than $50 for a first offense. However, these laws can change.

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