What does the Supreme Court’s ruling on bump stocks mean for Colorado?

Supreme Court Bump Stocks Explainer
Allen Breed/AP
FILE – An employee of North Raleigh Guns demonstrates how a bump stock works at the Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 1, 2013.

Friday’s Supreme Court ruling overturning a federal ban on bump stocks is likely to put the issue on the agenda when state lawmakers return to the Colorado capitol in January. 

The accessory, which is currently legal under Colorado law, allows someone to rapidly fire multiple rounds from a semi-automatic weapon after an initial trigger pull. It was most notably used by the shooter in Las Vegas who killed 60 people and wounded more than 400 at the Route 91 music festival in 2017.

“I believe Colorado should have legislation that will address bump stocks and other trigger activators,” said Democratic Sen. Tom Sullivan of Centennial. He entered politics after his son Alex was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting, and for the past six years has been one of the strongest advocates at the statehouse for stricter gun laws. 

“Clearly there is no political makeup in DC that can effectively speak to the public health crisis that is gun violence so we will do it on the state level and do our part to save lives,” Sullivan told CPR News in a text message Friday.

Democratic Rep. Meg Froelich of Denver told CPR News that a bill title to ban bump stocks has already been pulled for next session, a preliminary step in crafting legislation.

The Trump administration outlawed bump stocks in 2018. However, in their split, 6-3 decision, the Justices struck down the rule as administrative overreach. The court did not rule on whether the Second Amendment protects the right to own a bump stock.

In recent years, Democrats who control Colorado’s legislature have passed a number of stricter gun laws, ranging from increased training requirements for concealed carry permit holders, to expanding the state's so-called red flag gun law and requiring a three day waiting period for gun purchases. 

The last time the legislature introduced a bill specifically to ban bump stocks was in 2018, when Republicans still controlled the state Senate. It failed on a party line vote in its first committee. In 2023, the sponsor of an assault weapons ban made a last-ditch attempt to save her bill by amending it into a bump stock ban, but that effort failed.