Colorado Closing Background Checks Loophole

(Feb. 15) – Capping the second round of what promises to be a marathon floor debate on gun safety measures in Colorado, the state House of Representatives gave preliminary approval tonight to a bill to close a gaping loophole in the state’s law on criminal background checks for firearms purchasers.

HB13-1229, sponsored by Reps. Rhonda Field (D-Aurora) and Beth McCann (D-Denver), would end an exemption on background checks for gun purchasers who are buying from someone other than a federally licensed firearms dealer or an exhibitor at a gun show.

About 40 percent of gun sales pass through this loophole via internet, mail-order or in-person purchases from unlicensed sellers. Surveys show that the vast majority of Coloradans, including gun owners, support closing this loophole.

“When a convicted felon, or a domestic abuser or someone who is mentally ill, wants to buy a gun, all he needs to do is go online, or to an unlicensed seller,” Rep. Fields said. “That’s the way to skirt the law.”

“We are not asking for any change in the background check procedure,” Rep. McCann said. “We are only asking that that procedure apply to everyone who buys a gun in this state.”

The voice vote in favor of the bill came after three hours of debate. It took six hours to pass the first gun safety bill of the day, a measure to limit the capacity of magazines to 15 bullets or eight shotgun shells.

“This legislation is an important step toward making Colorado a safer place for our families and children,” said Jessica Watts, cousin of Aurora theater victim Jonathan Blunk. “We are grateful to the members of the state House who have shown today that they were listening to the victims and survivors of gun violence.”

As darkness fell over Denver, the House began debate of a bill to end the state’s subsidy of background checks. Still to come: a bill to restrict concealed carry of firearms on the state’s college and university campuses.

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