More Data Shows Universal Background Checks Are Working


A press release a short while ago from the Colorado House Majority Press Office:

Dozens of criminals have been prevented from buying a gun under a 2013 law that closed the loophole that allowed private sales of firearms to proceed without a background check on the buyer, official statistics show. 

Stats released by the state Department of Public Safety at the request of lawmakers show that from the time the background check law went into effect in July through the end of November, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation performed nearly 4,800 background checks on private sales in the state. 

After those 4,792 background checks, 72 sales were blocked because the would-be buyer was convicted of or charged with a serious crime, or was under a domestic restraining order. The crimes include homicide, sexual assault, assault, dangerous drugs and larceny/theft. The other 98 percent of the sales were to law-abiding citizens and went through without a hitch. 

The data also show an upward trend in the number of private-sale background checks in the first five months the law has been in effect. 

“Dozens of criminals would be walking around with a gun right now if not for the new law,” said Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), who sponsored the background checks law with Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver) and Senate President-designate Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora). “Our intention was to make our communities safer and make it harder for criminals to get guns. We now have five months of data that prove that the law is working.”

The data supplied by the Colorado Department of Public Safety shows a steady increase each month in the number of background checks conducted for a private sale or transfer of a gun as mandated by this year's House Bill 1229. Just over 550 checks for private sales were conducted in July, increasing to a total of 1,327 last month. The denial rate, with the exception of a small uptick in September, has held steady at just under 2% of transactions being rejected due to a disqualifying criminal record.

Those two percent of denied purchases were due to a number of reasons we'd consider very tough to argue with: four with restraining orders, a dozen people who had committed assault, five who committed burglary, and at least one rejected for a homicide conviction.

When the very earliest figures were released showing the first month of background checks had stopped ten criminals from purchasing guns in private sales, Republicans like Sen. Kevin Lundberg claimed that the number of denials was "not persuasive at all" that the law was working. We were reminded then of a 2012 bill from Rep. Mark Waller, now a candidate for Attorney General, to eliminate "redundant" state background checks by the CBI entirely. CBI checks became the law after a Castle Rock man bought a gun in a purchase that state checks would have prevented due to a restraining order, and then killed his children. Waller argued that this "one act" is the reason why have those "redundant" state checks.

Well, as of today, House Bill 1229 has prevented six dozen guns from ending up in the wrong hands. Every month there will be more such denials, even as 98%+ of the lawful gun buying public has no problems. Is preventing some quantifiable number of guns from being sold, to people nearly everyone agrees shouldn't have a gun, worth a few minutes of time and a few bucks from law-abiding citizens?

Folks, excluding a few shrieking lunatics and the elected officials goading them on, this is a no-brainer.

27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MADCO says:

    If by "working" you mean trampling the God given rights of everyone in America- ok. Well, except for non-citizens - no guns for them.


    • DavieDavie says:

      Yeah, and what if those homicidal, wife-beatin' rapists only wanted to use the gun for shooting watermelons, or self-defense when they're buying dope.  Aren't those valid exceptions to the law?

      Elliot, we need your considered opinion here, please.

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    What you forget is, Democrats claimed that 40% or more of guns were being transfered privately. That's far more gun sales than these sales with background checks can account for. That means either Dems were lying about the number of private transfers, which undermines the reason for HB1229 in the first place, or the law is useless because most buyers are simply not complying.

    Neither makes your precious background checks look effective.

    • OrangeFreeOrangeFree says:

      Can you cite the source on the 40% number? I'm genuinly curious, because I don't remember that stat being thrown around at all. 

      • BlueCat says:

        I do remember that number being thrown around and it turned out to be exaggerated. The inaccuracy deserves criticism but that doesn't change the fact that a significant number of sales, 6 dozen, to bad actors were stopped in a matter of months. 

        Look at the numbers Scott Gessler was throwing around trying to raise hysteria in support of new rules that would suppress the vote. Though off by a ridiculous number of magnitudes, much less percentage points, I didn't hear Modster complaining about those or about Gessler's draconian solutions to a problem that, unlike gun violence, turned out to be too insignificant to merit any solutions at all.

        Judging by Modster's indignant reaction to the inaccurate 40% figure, the waste, inconvenience and right trampling of Gessler's policy, based on far, far more inaccurate claims ought to be even more upsetting to Modster, especially considering that Gessler couldn't show so much as a single impacted election.  But somehow, it isn't. Hmmmm…..

        • ModeratusModeratus says:

          Wait a minute. If that's true of me, it's true of you in the inverse isn't it? I guess we're both hypocrites. :)

          This isn't the bill most of us are upset about anyway. Repeal the mag ban and save yourselves in 2014.

          • MADCO says:

            Well….I'll get behind repeal of the mag ban when Magpul leaves.

            The mag ban limitation is meaningless except int he rarest of situations when it isn't.

            You give up on the "laws don't work'cause criminals just break 'em anyway" and save yourself.  I've had all the saving I need.

            • ModeratusModeratus says:

              There is a possible middle ground too. I believe a compromise bill to change the mag ban to a 30 round limit would be a face saving way out for Dems. This would satisfy gun owners desire for standard capacity magazines for our guns, and would still ban giant drums like the one used in Aurora. I don't own any of those and I think they're stupid.

              Lots of Republicans want Democrats to fail, all I want is good policy. Democrats should consider what I'm proposing.

              • MADCO says:

                Well then!  Conisder it considered.

                • Curmudgeon says:

                  A compromise involves concessions from both sides. What Moddy is suggesting is a Republican Compromise, which means, "give us exactly what we want, with no concessions from our side, and we'll call it a compromise".

              • Diogenesdemar says:

                This gun owner doesn't own any 30-round magazines — and, I think they're stupid.  (Actually the magazine isn't stupid, that particular ilk of gun-owner that thinks he "needs' 30-rounds military capacity in a single magazine is . . . )  Anyway, I think ten is plenty, but I'm willing to let let you have 15, becaue I realize you probably don't practice nearly as much as you mewl, and you probably do need something to compensate for your crappy, unpracticied shooting skills.  

                Just a few years back you could only get 10-round magazines, that was then "the standard" – there's your compromise!  Happy now?!?

                Do you really think that the fools (which you eumphamistically call "gun-owners") are ever going to be "satisfied."

                Look liar, there are 70 million gun-owners in the United States only 4 million of which are present/former NRA members, and of those 4 million a whole lot of us are completly fed up with the NRA's failiure to address the concerns of legitimate gun owners, prefering instead to be the arms-at-any-cost-to-society shills for the armaments manufacturers.

                News flash, the biggest threat to your "gun rights" today isn't the Democratic party, or the sensible laws in Colorado — it's the NRA!!!  Reasonable regulation will preserve your gun rights by helping keep guns of certian types out of the hands of certain types.  If the NRA had its way, we'd arm everyone who wanted to with anything that a gun manufacturer could build or sell.  

                But here's the rub, eventually one or two of those "we-never-thought-we'd-see-this-coming" shooters is going to perpetrate a masacre so horrendous and so unthinkable (and the fact that Columbine, Aurora, Newton, Virginia Tech, etc., etc., hasn't yet been that one incident is only testament to the undeserving latitude and considered toleration that the 230 million-some non-gun-owners and the 296 million-some non-NRA-members in this country has allowed your boys-with-bigger-toys ilk) that the public outcry will be so loud that politicians of all stripes will be forcing some really draconian restricions (ala Australia, and other countries) upon you.  

                If you really don't want to see that day, you better get on board now and help — it's "your rights" that you're risking pissing away (by failing to attach any responsibilities to your small group gamer-wannabe-mercenaries).

                Really, Moderatus, it's way past time to do the math, and to give up your toadying support of every childish thing . . .  

                • Ralphie says:

                  No 30-round clips?  What are you going to do when the end times come and you have to shoot your way into heaven?

                • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

                  I'd ask ,as a combat veteran,why anyone would need even 15 rounds. The British, Germans, and Russians all assaulted everything they felt needed assaulted in two world wars with bolt action rifles carrying 5 round magazines. Even the Garand only carried 8. I'm a native Coloradan who spent most of his life in the state, especially on the Western slope . The very best hunter I ever knew used only Ruger number one falling block action single shot rifles. He was the sort of guy who could have stolen Mod's hair without moving Mod's hat.

                  • OrangeFreeOrangeFree says:

                    I'd ask ,as a combat veteran,why anyone would need even 15 rounds.

                    Because freedom. 

                  • BlueCat says:

                    My husband, also a combat vet who grew up hunting, says the same things. In fact amost all the males in my extended family, a good percentage of them vets from WWII, Korea and Vietnam, own or owned guns and supported during their lifetimes or are still around today and supporting reasonable gun control measures such as this one.

                    • gertie97 says:

                      There's a friend of ours who once had to take five shots at a bull elk, at under 100 yards, to bring him down. To this day, he's mocked as Machine Gun Kelly.

          • BlueCat says:

            No it's not true of me, too, because the the two  sets of facts are not comparable. Please read my comment again and see if you get the point I'm making about the huge disparity between the two on second reading. 

            Gessler's solution is an over the top draconian right trampling one for which a problem doesn't exist. The 72  bad actors who couldn't buy a gun are evidence that a problem does exist and that the very non-draconian, expanded checks that aren't harming anyone's rights are having some significant success in addressing it.

    • Are you complaining because the law doesn't provide enough enforcement against private sellers who flaunt the law?

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      Since I KNOW that one of those rejections was for a gun I sold through a licensed dealer and the person rejected was twice convicted for DV and our city has only 2800 people I'm pretty reassured of the efficacy

  3. doremi says:

    Correction:  Simon Gonzales (the shooter in Castle Rock) back in 1999 did not murder his wife, but he did shoot and kill his 3 little daughters outside the Castle Rock police station.  Prior to the shooting, he went to a gun dealer. While his 3 girls were playing outside, he purchased the weapon that he shot and killed them with.   He was under a restraining order, which a CBI background check would have caught, but the 1999 legislature (in choosing to save money) turned background checks over to the FBI.  Testimony to the lege had warned not to do that (although the committee members told the paper "We didn't know this could happen."). FBI databases had no record of the restraining order, so the 3 beautiful Gonzales girls died. 

    To his credit, Republican Governor Bill Owens soon thereafter reinstated CBI checks by executive order.  The legislature made it the law in 2000.  The bill was sponsored by moderate Republicans (Sen. Owens and Rep. Tool), a species that unfortunately seems to be extinct in today's state legislature.

    About the 40%:  Generally the 40% figure is used to describe the portion of firearms purchases that are private for the entire United States.  In Colorado it was expected to be a lower figure because  we already do background checks at gun shows. In 2000 after the Columbine massacre, voters approved Closing the Gun Show Loophole by a 70% – 30% vote.  Three of the four guns used at Columbine were purchased at a gun show.

    Before July 1st  in Colorado, if a person failed a background check, they could merely go online (there are plenty of sites, even the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners used to run one) or find a classified advertisement….and voila….the criminal or domestic violence abuser could arm himself or herself rather rapidly with about anything her or she wanted without ANYONE ASKING ANY QUESTIONS.

    As of July 1st, if a person fails the background check at a store, at the gun show or in a private sale, there is NO WHERE he or she can readily go to get firearms.  All sales are checked. 

    Thank you Colorado legislature for making us all safer!   We don't need to be arming criminals and spouse abusers.  We do need background checks upon each and every firearms purchase or transfer!!!!




    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      Thanks for the valuable background information. We've updated the post.

      • ModeratusModeratus says:

        No one would argue that this was a tragedy. Mark Waller is no cold hearted man, and I think you know that Pols. This is a question of cost/benefit to both the state and law abiding citizens. If we justified every legislation by the possibility of "saving one life," we would have a lot of terrible laws. No one wants to see more gun crime, all we're saying is you can't solve the problems that cause violence by getting rid of guns.

        • roccoprahn says:

          Nobody's "trying to get rid of guns".

          Think before you post, as there's no movement by anyone anywhere attempting to "get rid of guns".

          None of the 5 laws passed this year "get rifd of guns".

          Or tell me where that's happening in Colorado or anywhere else.

          Please. The gunzo rhetoric's ridiculous.

        • MADCO says:

          Propose an alternative way to limit gun crime, death and violence.

          The only alternatives presented by the gunz for everyone crowd in the recent era are no rules, no laws, no fees, no interference is the only possible approach.  Which almost everyone knows is crap.

          Guns are not hammers.Guns are not spray paint. Guns are not cars.

          Guns are what they are, designed to do what they do.
          What do you propose for appropriate regulaiton?

          • DavieDavie says:

            Crickets — what else would you expect? 

          • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

            You were asking the Modster, and the magazine limit was too hard won to give up, but if I were looking for good gun regulation it would be this: Screw up once with a gun (threat or harm to person, place, or animal), and you don't get your gun back. Ever.

            So no Zimmerman gun, no Cheney gun, no Fort Hood shooter gun, no Navy Yard shoot-up -his-rental gun, no carry-a-gun-to-presidential-speech gun, no threats to shoot sitting legislators. No domestic violence offender guns, no gangster guns.

            If your kid or someone is injured by accident because you couldn't be bothered to lock up your gun, you lose all of them. Outside of legitimate licensed hunting, you shoot a dog or cat for fun, you lose your firearm privileges.

            I guess you could say the same thing for other deadly weapons, including cars, but this is where I'd start with guns.


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