Wheat Ridge Police Chief Chris Murtha spoke to Wheat Ridge City Council members about legislative issues around handgun crimes and fentanyl during their March 21 study session.
Murtha said HB1257, possession of a weapon by a prohibited offender would change which people are able to access a weapon.
“This bill, if passed, would allow felony drug distribution — people convicted of that crime—to obtain a weapon. It would also allow people who are convicted of motor vehicle theft to obtain a weapon,” Murtha said. “In my conversations with General (Merrick) Garland we talked about the ongoing violence—the spike of violence in Colorado. We’ve seen a 20% increase in violent crime—a lot of that around handguns.”
Murtha said his officers come up against way too many felons in possession of firearms as it is. And he pointed to the inordinate amount of officer involved shootings as resulting from the number of armed individuals they encounter.
The bill as currently written, Murtha said, would only prohibit people who are convicted under the state’s Victim Rights Act (VRA) from obtaining a weapon.
“We find such a nexus between drugs and guns,” he said. “Certainly, those folks are protecting a valuable commodity, to them, and they often carry weapons. We find them in possession of weapons and that’s something that’s gravely concerning to us.”
Crimes that fall under the VRA umbrella include murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and varying degrees of assault, menacing, sexual assault and kidnapping, to name a few.
Murtha said he’s not sure what the goal or intention behind creating a law to allow people prohibited from obtaining a handgun under current statutes, to legally obtain one if HB1257 passes could be. He implored state lawmakers to take a closer look at the bill before passage.
State Rep. Monica Duran (HD-24), who spoke earlier in the meeting, asked Murtha to send her more information about his objections to the bill.