Today, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law three measures that will curb gun violence in a state that has been plagued by mass gun violence, including shootings at Columbine and Aurora. The new laws will expand background checks on gun purchases, including requiring background checks on all gun transfers and charging consumers for those checks. Additionally, it will limit magazine capacities to 15 rounds.
The signing of these measures represents a huge win for advocates seeking to reduce gun violence. A few months ago, no one would have expected that Colorado, a state a storied history of high rate of gun ownership and lenient gun regulations, would pass some of the strictest gun violence prevention laws in the country.
Jill Hanauer, a Democratic strategist in Denver, emphasized that this shift in local policy will affect the rest of the country.
“It absolutely lays a path for the rest of the country,” Hanauer told the New York Times. “If you can do it here, you can do it anyplace."
Garnering support for gun violence prevention laws has proved precipitous. In February, the Colorado House passed a bill that would ban firearms from the state’s college campuses. Last week, the Colorado Senate voted to approve Senate Bill 197, which would require perpetrators of domestic violence and those currently under a protection order to relinquish any firearms in their possession within 24 hours.
Gun violence disproportionately impacts young Americans. In 2012, the New York City Child Fatality Review Advisory Team noted that firearms were the most common mechanism of youth homicide, accounting for 68 percent of youth homicides in New York City, and 82 percent of all youth homicides in the United States.
Support for laws that seek to prevent gun violence is rising, especially among young people. The National Journal reported that in 2013, young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were the most supportive of the focus on stricter gun control—56 percent. Youth activism has been strong around the issue of gun violence, particularly following the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
The passage of the measures comes exactly eight months after the mass shooting in the Aurora movie theater left 12 people dead. The new laws were also ushered in only hours after the murder of Colorado’s Department head of corrections, Tom Clements. No suspect has been identified, and police are investigating whether Clements’ work was a factor in his death.
The new measures will go into effect on July 1.