Colorado bill would mandate domestic abusers report firearms

DENVER — The Colorado House passed a measure Wednesday that would require people facing domestic violence protection orders to report their firearms, coming just days after a man shot and killed six people in a domestic dispute in Colorado Springs.

The legislation would require the person who is issued a protective order by a judge to report the type and location of firearms in their possession within a week.

It’s getting more attention after 28-year-old Teodoro Macias went to a birthday party thrown by the family of his girlfriend, 28-year-old Sandra Ibarra, and fatally shot six people before killing himself early Sunday. He was upset he wasn’t invited to the gathering, police said.

Macias had a history of controlling and jealous behavior and the shooting was an act of domestic violence, Colorado Springs police Lt. Joe Frabbiele said Tuesday. Police said there were no reported incidents of domestic violence during the relationship and that the shooter didn’t have a criminal history. No protective orders were in place.

“It’s not all just black eyes and bruises that are indicators of abuse,” said Tamika Matthews, community impact manager for Violence Free Colorado, a group that educates and seeks to end domestic abuse.

The warning signs for domestic abuse can include tactics that “enforce that element of one person maintaining power over another” such as possessiveness in relationship, threatening or endangering pets, or even controlling money, she said.

Democratic Rep. Monica Duran, one of the bill’s sponsors, shared her personal experience with her high school sweetheart turned domestic abuser.

“I lived every day — and I mean every day — in fear, shame and isolation,” Duran said, her voice cracking.

After the physical, emotional and mental threats didn’t work, Duran said her husband then turned to threatening her with a gun. She cited a report that found abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their victims and said that made her think about her own life.

A 2020 study by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit research and advocacy group that works to prevent gun deaths and injuries in the U.S., said 65% of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner, 95% were women killed by their intimate partners and 92% involved a gun.

“A person suffering abuse needs to be able to count on an effective mechanism for enforcing the law that removes firearms from an abusive partner,” Duran said of the legislation.

Rep. Matt Gray, another Democratic sponsor of the bill, said Colorado is a mandatory arrest state for domestic violence, meaning that when there is probable cause that domestic violence has occurred, the person has to be arrested and held in jail without bond until a judge issues a protection order. The suspect also must relinquish their firearms, he added.

The legislation is for people who don’t follow the protection orders and are still at a “very high likely rate” to commit acts of violence against their partner, Gray said.

Republican Rep. Terri Carver offered several amendments, saying she believed the bill created a “serious Fifth Amendment issue” because of the paperwork for identifying the location and type of firearms in someone’s possession.

Carver said the paperwork could be used as evidence to convict them in a criminal case, leading to self-incrimination, which the Fifth Amendment protects against. Carver’s amendments failed.

The legislation will head to the Senate next.


Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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