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Colorado HB-1270: Colorado Gun Owners Could Face Mandated Liability Insurance

By Raina Lucero

March 1, 2024

In a contentious move, Colorado House Bill 1270 (HB-1270) has emerged as the latest initiative by the Democratic-led Legislature to regulate gun ownership in the state. The proposed legislation introduces a mandatory requirement for firearm owners to obtain liability insurance, regardless of whether their weapons are securely stored within the confines of their homes. Proponents argue that the bill aims to encourage responsible gun ownership and address the economic burden of firearm-related incidents. However, critics assert that it is yet another attempt by Democrats to regulate legal gun owners under the guise of public safety.

The core of HB-1270 revolves around the mandate for firearm owners to maintain a liability insurance policy that covers losses or damages to individuals, other than the policyholder, who sustain injuries on the insured property due to accidental or unintentional discharge of a firearm. Non-compliance with this mandate results in a civil infraction, carrying a $500 fine for the first offense and a minimum $1,000 fine for a second offense within a five-year period.

A noteworthy aspect of the legislation is the provision allowing gun owners to seek exemption from this insurance requirement by petitioning a court. However, critics argue that this process could be cumbersome, potentially placing an additional burden on lawful gun owners.

Furthermore, the bill compels insurers to include coverage satisfying the firearm liability insurance requirement in homeowners or renters insurance policies. Nevertheless, insurers retain the right to deny coverage based on an individualized risk assessment related to the applicant.

The proposed legislation has not been without its fair share of criticism. Detractors argue that HB-1270 is not a novel concept but rather a recycled proposal seen in other states, suggesting that Colorado lawmakers may not have conducted a thorough examination of its contents. This criticism raises questions about whether the bill is a genuine attempt to address public safety concerns or merely a part of a broader, nationwide effort by gun-control groups to impose restrictions on legal gun ownership.

The bill has been labeled by some as an unnecessary hurdle for legal gun ownership, likened to a tax, and questioned for its effectiveness in reducing gun violence. HB-1270 is not an isolated case but rather mirrors similar proposals introduced in other states, including California and New York. This uniformity across states raises concerns among critics, reinforcing the perception that the bill is part of a broader, nationwide effort to impose restrictions on legal gun ownership.

In Maryland, for instance, lawmakers have proposed even more stringent measures, suggesting that gun owners must carry liability insurance or pay a substantial fee. The varying degrees of legislation across states contribute to the ongoing national debate surrounding gun control and individual rights.

As the bill navigates through the legislative process, attention turns to Governor Jared Polis, who has previously signaled his opposition to a ban on semi-automatic weapons. The potential impact of HB-1270 on gun owners, coupled with its association with both gun control and increased taxes, presents a complex dilemma for Polis. The governor must delicately balance the priorities of his party with the sentiments of a significant portion of the Colorado population.

Colorado House Bill 1270, with its mandate for firearm liability insurance, has emerged as a flashpoint in the ongoing debate over gun control and individual rights. While proponents argue that the bill promotes responsible firearm ownership, critics contend that it unfairly burdens legal gun owners. As the bill progresses through the legislative process, its fate remains uncertain, and its implications for both gun owners and the broader political landscape in Colorado will continue to be a subject of heated discussion and debate.

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