Colorado’s straw gun purchaser ban not only applies to people who buy firearms for someone who isn’t legally eligible to own or possess one, but also to anyone who shares guns with them, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The law, approved by the Colorado Legislature in 2000 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in response to the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton a year earlier, makes it a Class 4 felony to purchase a firearm, and then give or transfer it to someone who cannot legally own a weapon, such as a convicted felon.
Doing so is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
In a 2018 case out of Adams County, a woman was convicted for purchasing a firearm that her common-law husband, a convicted felon, could access.
In an appeal of that conviction, a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in a precedent-setting opinion Thursday that’s the same as transferring a firearm to an ineligible person even if it isn’t a permanent transaction.
“(The law) establishes that the General Assembly gave ‘transfer’ a broad definition for purposes of the prohibition against the ‘transfer’ of firearms by ‘straw purchasers,’” Judge Lino Lipinsky wrote in the ruling, which was joined by Judges Gilbert Roman and Elizabeth Harris.
“(The law), which addresses private firearm transfers, includes a background check requirement for transfers or attempts to transfer firearms by persons who are not licensed gun dealers,” Lipinsky added. “The language of these statutes indicates that the General Assembly did not carve out from the scope of (the law) temporary transfers of a firearm in the form of shared use.”
The law stems from a man who sold a pistol to the teens who attacked Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, leaving 15 people dead. He later was convicted for providing a weapon to a minor.