Gun Safety Legislation Update: Assault Weapon Responsibility Act
On Wednesday, Feb. 27, Senate President John Morse will introduce the Assault Weapon Responsibility Act in the Colorado State Senate. Seeking a balanced approach, this bill acknowledges the rights of assault weapon manufacturers, sellers and owners, while clearly defining the responsibility that accompanies those rights. Colorado law currently provides blanket immunity to gun manufacturers, sellers and dealers – something no other industry has in the United States. Under this bill, people who sell, transfer or discharge assault weapons in an unlawful manner will no longer pass the costs and burden to the state, communities and victims.
The following is a summary of language included in the Assault Weapon Responsibility Act.
The Assault Weapon Responsibility Act concerns liability for the discharge of an assault weapon, which is defined as any firearm except: handguns, shotguns, and bolt-action and lever-action rifles.
The bill establishes strict liability against a person who discharges an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge. It includes an exemption for people who cause harm or damage using an assault weapon while defending themselves, or others within a dwelling, in response to a threat of physical force.
Strict civil liability is a tort law concept that imposes liability for harm suffered without requiring proof of negligence. This is commonly used in product liability law.
The bill establishes liability for a person who owns, obtains, or possesses an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third person, if the person was negligent in storing the assault weapon, or allowing a third party to come into possession of the assault weapon.
The bill establishes liability for a seller and transferor of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person:
The bill establishes liability (not strict liability) for a seller, distributor, or manufacturer of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.
The bill requires sellers, distributors, and manufacturers to:
Peace officers and military personnel acting within the scope of their duties are exempt from assault weapons liability—as is a manufacturer or seller of an assault weapon that is transferred for police or military use.
The Assault Weapon Responsibility Act repeals Part 5 of Article 21 of Title 13, which prohibits certain civil actions from being brought against manufacturers of firearms and ammunition.