Colorado lawmakers consider bill that would require firearm liability insurance

House Bill 24-1270 passed out of the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee with a 6-5 vote on Thursday evening.
Posted at 9:59 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 00:19:45-04

DENVER — A bill that would require liability insurance for all firearms in Colorado narrowly passed out of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on a 6-5 vote Thursday evening.

Under House Bill 24-1270, gun owners must maintain "a liability insurance policy that covers losses or damages to a person, other than the policyholder, who is injured on the insured property as a result of any accidental or unintentional discharge of the firearm."

The bill would make it possible for victims of accidental shootings to file a claim against the policyholder of the gun. If a gun were stolen, the policyholder would be protected from any potential claims as long as the firearm is reported as stolen, sponsors said.

One of the prime sponsors of the Democratic bill is State Representative Iman Jodeh (D - Arapahoe County).

“What we're really trying to do is to make sure that we are just taking responsible gun ownership and adding one more protection," Jodeh said. “People own guns, we do not want to infringe on that right. But what we want to do is make sure that they are protecting themselves even more. And so by having this insurance, we are upholding their belief that they should own guns, they have the right to own guns, and that they can be and should be responsible gun owners.”

According to Jodeh, this kind of insurance is already offered through homeowners and renters insurance policies. She does not feel it would be a substantial financial burden on gun owners, saying the examples they have seen from independent insurers total around $50 a year for firearm liability insurance.

"We know that for existing policies, it's only about $50. And so, there are protections for folks that can't afford it but are responsible gun owners and they have proven that. And so, we've created avenues to make sure that again, we are not impeding on anyone's constitutional rights, but making sure that we are creating guardrails for responsible gun ownership.”

Colorado lawmakers consider bill that would require firearm liability insurance

State Representative Ryan Armagost (R - Larimer and Weld Counties) is firmly opposed to HB24-1270. He does not believe people would follow the law and said unintentional shootings are rare.

“I think this is a long, large-scale plan of all this stuff coming together in one way or another to keep firearm owners from wanting to or even legally being able to obtain and own firearms," Armagost said. “When we're talking about unintentional deaths of firearms, that's not going to be happening on a level of law-abiding citizens... those are a drive-by shooting or any kind of gang violence or something like that, where people are spraying ammunition at each other and somebody gets unintentionally struck by a bullet.”

If the bill becomes law, a violation would be considered a civil infraction. A first offense would face a $500 minimum fine — half of that could be suspended if firearm liability insurance is obtained.

HB24-1270 heads to the Committee of the Whole next.

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