Two gun violence prevention groups have communicated to Governor Polis their concerns about the potential sale of firearms to felons, spouse abusers and adjudicated mentally ill.
Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Faith Communities United Against Gun Violence today submitted separate letters urging the governor to limit gun sales to people who pass background checks, as state law requires.
The surge in gun sales during the COVID-19 epidemic has led to an enormous backlog in background checks at the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Under federal law, if a background check takes longer than three days, gun sellers may choose to sell without one, posing a risk of dangerous people obtaining firearms.
“With a backlog of some 9,000 background checks and a reduced staff due to COVID 19, the CBI is under enormous pressure,” explained Alana Smart, Co-Chair of CFCU. “We’ve recently learned that an individual who is prohibited from owning a gun in Colorado was able to purchase one because the three-day deadline to process background checks was passed. A similar occurrence led to the 2015 massacre of nine members at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston,” Smart noted.
While CFCU wants to find out what the governor can do to prevent the sale of firearms to prohibited purchasers, Colorado Ceasefire called for the governor to issue an Executive Order to disallow the sale of guns without a background check, period.
“People are under greater stress caused by fears of the virus, loss of income and confinement. Mental health professionals are warning of the risk of increased domestic abuse and other violence,” noted Eileen McCarron, president of Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action. “The last thing we need is for spouse abusers, convicted felons or mentally ill individuals to have easy access to guns,” she concluded.
Ceasefire urged the governor to issue an Executive Order that would:
Require all gun dealers to suspend the sale and transfer of firearms until the successful completion of a CBI background check, and that FFL’s found to be in non-compliance with this order be deemed non-essential businesses and therefore closed for the duration of the disaster emergency.
Both groups note that access to guns results in increased gun violence. When there is a gun in the home, the chance of homicide doubles and the chance of suicide triples. Women who are victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm.