Colorado Spends Millions to Perform 7 Percent of Expected Gun Background Checks


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Amidst much debate, and the ultimate recall of two gun-controlling state senators (and resignation of a third), Colorado lawmakers inflicted tighter gun laws on their suffering constituents last year. Among those laws was a requirement that all private transfers of firearms go through a background check of the sort already imposed on commercial transactions. Lawmakers estimated that 420,000 background checks would pass through the system over the first two years, and allocated $3 million for the cause.

As it turns out, the background check shop is in place, but there aren't so many customers for the new bureaucracy. According to the Associated Press:

Democrats pushed the proposal into law last year as part of a package of gun restrictions meant to improve safety after devastating mass shootings. Lawmakers drafting the background check requirement, aimed at keeping firearms away from those with a criminal history, relied on information from a non-partisan research arm of the Legislature that predicted about 420,000 new reviews over the first two years. Accordingly, they budgeted about $3 million to the agency that conducts the checks to handle the anticipated surge of work.

But after a year of operating under the new system, Colorado Bureau of Investigations officials have performed only about 13,600 reviews considered a result of the new law — about 7 percent of the estimated first year total.

That 13,600 figure also includes gun show sales, which were already required and not part of the expected flood of checks on private transfers.

So…Savings, right? Maybe not. The new agency had to be created after all. It hasn't filled all of its authorized positions, since there's not much to do, but it's not clear how much of the allocated money is just sitting around waiting to be diverted to some other…umm…worthy expenditure.

Are Colorado residents just not that wild about guns? Maybe there was never much of a need for private background checks after all. Lawmakers' estimate was based on a National Institute of Justice guesstimate that 40 percent of gun transfers are between private parties. Nobody knows whether that's even close to accurate.

Or maybe in a state that prohibits gun registration, people knew there was no possible way for officials to track the movement of their firearms. So they're just ignoring the stupid law.

NEXT: Move Over, Oswald: Salon Says Tea Party Types Killed Kennedy

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  1. So they’re just ignoring the stupid law.

    No, that can’t be it. There have been no mass shootings in the state since the law went into effect, so it’s working. But if it doesn’t work, that $3 mil is going to have to be upped.

  2. I wonder if there hasn’t been much activity in private transfers because so many Coloradoans already own guns?

  3. I’m no rocket surgeon, but how would you know if I bought or sold a firearm in a private transaction, without first knowing what firearms are out there, and who currently owns them on a particular date?

    Laws requiring background checks on private “face-to-face” firearms transactions are impossible to enforce without 100% registration of all firearms.

    1. Colorado Democrats like your thinking.

    2. Pretty hard to enforce even with them. There’s no law against “losing” a gun. Or “finding” one, and if someone just happens to find my lost gun at the same place and time I found some money…

    3. Huh. It’s weird that gun control advocates never considered that they would have to enact total registration to make their background check laws work. How could they have overlooked that unintended consequence?

      1. That’s my point: Nobody is that stupid. The end-goal is total registration, followed by confiscation. Background checks on face-to-face firearms transactions is a way for them to say “gee, this is the law, and it doesn’t work without registration, so registration was the intent of this law”.

        1. ?:

          Let me simplify that for you.. Thats what they want.

    4. Probably not 100% impossible. You could do sting operations. You could also take a gun found during a criminal investigation, trace it back to the person who originally bought it, and then lean on the person possessing it to testify the original buyer sold it to him.

  4. Background checks are a bit more involved than just using the magic computer. They are expensive and a pain in the ass. The “lets run a background check on everyone who buys a gun” people remind me of the “hey we can just do a background check to make sure we don’t give amnesty to a criminal” open border types.

    1. Yes, can you imagine the disaster if people were free to move into Virginia from places like Oklohoma or Massachusetts without getting a visa first?

      No way that Virginia could run background checks on them all, and without the background checks crime would soar!

    2. The background checks on an open border could never be accurate anyway, the people your talking about don’t have any kind of documentation to check on in the first place. Even if they were criminals they would more than likely be smart enough to conceal their identity.

      1. Assuming that the home country kept records of any worth…

        1. That’s exactly my point.

  5. Off topic, but important:

    Mark Ames is doubling down on his “Reason supported apartheid” article from last week by doubling down with a “Reason denied the Holocaust” screed.…..ial-issue/

    It’s already hit Reddit, which of course is taking it as gospel.

    1. The sheer number of straws being grasped in that ‘article’ is seldom seen, someone should call Guinness for a record check.

    2. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.


  6. A few million?

    That a paltry sum for peace of mind.

  7. They forgot that Colorado leads the nation in unfortunate boating accidents where firearms are lost.

    Curious oversight…perhaps mandatory registration of scuba gear would help.

  8. Obviously the police need to set up sting operations.

    Just like for drugs, prostitution, renting out your home, and ridesharing.

    1. We also need more no knock raids to ensure the proles follow those magical safe storage laws.

  9. I bet on ignore.

    1. BTW, the same thing is happening in CT.

  10. “The law also requires checks for online sales, which is new for transactions within Colorado. But such vetting was already required on interstate sales. Still, interstate activity is tallied in the private background check total.”

    Translation: Federal law has required CBI Instachecks by Federally Licensed Firearms dealers for online firearm purchases from out of state sellers since 1994, which would mean almost ALL online sales have already required background checks. By including these existing interstate transfers in the total, this basically means that almost NONE of the reported total of 13,600 background checks is from intrastate checks required by the new state law, which would be easy enough for an enterprising reporter (yeah, right) to confirm by obtaining this same statistic for the year BEFORE the Colorado laws were implemented.

    Also, note that not a single person has been arrested in Colorado for violation of the new magazine-limit law because it is simply unenforceable since there is no way to distinguish a legal magazine from an “illegal” magazine.

    These laws DO however serve to turn a large number of Colorado citizens into unknowing criminals who can be selectively prosecuted upon any whim of the government, which is one of the very hallmarks of a fascist government.

  11. Hmmm, seems kinda silly to expect anyone to comply, but then again, it could be worse. They could’ve passed a “law” that actually affected people.

    On another somewhat related subject, my curiosity finally overwhelmed me today. I decided to find out how many bullets I could fit into a couple of my standard magazines. You might find this info useful, or at least of some trivial value:

    In a standard Magpul .223 AR mag, I crammed 217 bullets.
    In a standard Springy XDM factory 9mm mag, I managed 53.

    This initially shocked the shit out of me, given that all of these politicians and anti-gun whiners are talking about magazines with “10 bullet limits” and such.

    Of course, logic and sanity prevailed, as I watched the spring pressure force the bullets out of those mags, and realized how truly stupid these people are. Who in their right mind would try to store their bullets in spare magazines, of all places?

    Take it from me, those small coffee cans are much better containers.
    Just don’t store them next to the powder, they might get mixed together and shoot someone, most likely a chillunz …

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