Columbine. The Aurora Movie Theater. Club Q.

Over the last few decades, Colorado has seen the horrors of gun violence spread throughout the state with a rapidly increasing frequency. Sadly, sickeningly, we are not alone.

Like us, the rest of the nation has watched this cancer creep into every corner of every city in America. From the giant metropolis to the smallest village, every locale has been impacted by this scourge in one way or another.

And since Columbine, local and national leaders have presented as many remedies to the problems of gun violence as there have been shootings—with most of these solutions going nowhere.

However, it seems that for better or worse, 2023 is shaping up to be different. In fact, I would dare say that with everything happening this year regarding guns, gun ownership, and gun violence, EVERYTHING could change.

Starting with the good news first …

In August, The United States Supreme Court narrowly approved the Biden administration’s ability to enforce regulations to clamp down on “ghost guns” by a 5-4 margin. Ghost guns—guns which are put together by using a kit at home—are especially dangerous since they don’t have serial numbers and are therefore untraceable.

The ruling clarified that ghost guns fit within the definition of “firearm” under federal law, meaning the government has the power to regulate them the same way it regulates firearms manufactured and sold through the traditional process. These regulations require manufacturers and sellers of the kits to obtain licenses, mark the products with serial numbers, conduct background checks, and maintain records.

The statistics show there was definitely a need for this legal verdict.

Though these guns may have been around since the 1990s, it wasn’t until 2009 that the market really took off; since then, they’ve become a serious problem. The Department of Justice reported in 2022 that 45,000 privately made firearms are known, including 692 guns linked to murder or attempted homicide investigations.

Even though I find the SCOTUS ruling to be a step in the right direction, it’s important to remember that ghost guns are only one piece of the larger picture when it comes to violent crimes and unregistered weapons.

The most recent information collected by the Department of Justice when it comes to illegal firearm possession and crime found that in the 13 states with the fewest restrictions on gun ownership, 40% of inmates illegally obtained the gun they used. Only about 13% purchased the gun from a store or pawn shop. And in the other 37 states, 60% of inmates illegally procured the gun they used.

Thankfully, a local company has figured out a creative way to fight this problem.

In April this year, Colorado-based firearms company BioFire Technologies took the first steps in changing the tide of these numbers by reshaping everything we know about weapon safety with the release of their “smart gun.” The concept behind BioFire’s weapon is straightforward: think smartphone security meets handgun. The weapon will fire normally so long as the user’s fingerprint or face is stored in its memory banks. For anyone else, the company says, the gun is little more than a paperweight.

The general public has been clamoring for decades to see some kind of positive steps being taken when it comes to keeping guns out of the wrong hands. I’m glad to finally see a company come along and literally do just that.

Unfortunately, this is where all the positive changes end. Grimly, there’s one more event happening in 2023 that I think could have the most far-reaching impact of anything within the sphere of gun control that we’ve seen thus far.

The Supreme Court stated they will listen to a case this year to decide whether a 1994 federal law that bars people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The 1994 law at issue in the current case prohibits a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm. Though it initially made the crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, it has since been raised to 15 years. If repealed by the Supreme Court, it would mean that a person who beat up their spouse, causing the need for a restraining order, could legally own a firearm.

Yes, anyone with a brain could see how this could be incredibly problematic. However, what makes the thought of SCOTUS repealing this law even more chilling is when you look at the connection between domestic violence and mass shootings.

April Zeoli, Ph.D., an associate professor and the policy core director for the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan found that between 2014 and 2019, “around 68% of mass shooters either killed their family and intimate partners, or they have a history of domestic violence.”

I’m sorry, but those odds are too terrible for ANYONE to hedge their bets on—and this is coming from a guy who’s lost a lot of money to casinos over the years thinking I could “beat the system.”

For those who are going to point to the SCOTUS ruling on ghost guns earlier in this article as a means to soothe the building anxiety over what they might do with this domestic violence fiasco, it’s important to remember that this same group of judges has also ruled in the other direction previously.

Last year, in a 6-3 ruling, SCOTUS shot down New York’s handgun-licensing law that required New Yorkers who want to carry a handgun in public to show a special need to defend themselves. This was considered to be the most far-reaching ruling made on gun control in a decade.

So, when it comes to how they will adjudicate the domestic violence case, it’s anyone’s guess. Sorry to give you potentially false hope.

I believe that various laws and legal decisions made during this decade will shape the future of guns, gun ownership, and gun violence until the end of the 21st century. Some of it will be good, and some of it will be terrible. But as long as we have ever-evolving technology like the kind being rolled out by BioFire Technologies, I think there will be a legitimate stop-gap to all the holes that the various governmental leaders of America will create.