SATURDAY UPDATE: The Chieftain's Peter Roper attempts to correct the record in a new story today:
Colorado’s new law on background checks on individual gun sales allows family members to loan each other guns for unlimited periods, the legal staff for Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday.
A news story about a Colorado Senate committee meeting earlier this week mistakenly reported those indefinite loans were not allowed.
The reporter made the mistake based on inaccurate information given in interviews.
Roper claims that former Sen. Angela Giron "confirmed" Victor Head's false claim that House Bill 13-1229 prevented indefinite loans of guns between immediate family members. Whatever may have happened there, there is only one "confirmation" that matters, and only one that Roper should have relied on–the unambiguous language of the bill itself. We don't accept that as an excuse for yet another instance of blatantly false reporting from the Pueblo Chieftain, but we do appreciate the correction–and we sincerely hope this lie doesn't get repeated ever again.
UPDATE #2: Media Matters for America rips the Chieftain's false reporting:
More than six months after two Colorado state senators were recalled over their support for stronger gun safety legislation, Colorado newspaper The Pueblo Chieftain continues to push false information to defend supporters of the recall.
Controversy in Colorado has erupted over the February 3 testimony of primary recall organizer Victor Head before the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. In calling for the repeal of a 2013 law that created a requirement for background checks on most gun sales, Head testified that he gathered recall petition signatures by telling people that the background check law would prohibit firearms loans between immediate family members for longer than 72 hours without a background check.
In fact, Colorado's background check law allows "a bona fide gift or loan" without a background check "between immediate family members, which are limited to spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles" with no time limit. State Democratic Sen. Angela Giron — one of the two senators targeted by Head for recall — was responsible for authoring this family exemption.
UPDATE: A statement from the Colorado Senate Majority Office attempts to set the record straight:
Misinformation has been shared this week, by a member of the public and in a news report, regarding the 2013 law (HB 13-1229) requiring background checks for private gun transfers. To clarify, when a gun is given as a bona fide gift or indefinite loan to immediate family members, a background check is NOT required. The 72-hour limitation on loans applies to anyone who is not an immediate family member as defined in the law. [Pols emphasis]
Wednesday, we released clips of audio testimony from Monday's hearing in the Colorado Senate State, Veteran's and Military Affairs Committee by Pueblo recall organizer Victor Head. Head was testifying in favor of a bill to repeal last year's universal background check law. In response to friendly questions from Republican Sen. Ted Harvey, Head explained how he "changed minds" of undecided voters in favor of signing the recall petition against former Sen. Angela Giron:
I changed a lot of people's minds by making that contrast. The statistics are potentially right, although I'm aways leery of statistics, that we keep hearing, 80% of Coloradans, you know support background checks for sales, or 90% nationwide. You talk to people and they'll say 'yeah, absolutely,' and then when you tell them, 'okay that's a sale, but what about a transfer, you know, from you to your brother or whatever, they do a 180. [Pols emphasis] Instantly. They say 'well wait a minute, you're talking just loaning it?' And I say 'yeah, that's what the legislation says.' And they would say, 'well sign me up, that's not okay.' That was the overreach…
The problem, as Democrats on the committee immediately pointed out and we explained Wednesday, is Head's claim that one cannot loan a gun to family members for more than 72 hours is completely false. The plain language of House Bill 13-1229 reads:
THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION DO NOT APPLY [Pols emphasis] TO:
(a) A TRANSFER OF AN ANTIQUE FIREARM, AS DEFINED IN 18 U.S.C. SEC. 921(a) (16), AS AMENDED, OR A CURIO OR RELIC, AS DEFINED IN 27 CFR 478.11, AS AMENDED;
(b) A TRANSFER THAT IS A BONA FIDE GIFT OR LOAN BETWEEN IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBERS, WHICH ARE LIMITED TO SPOUSES, PARENTS, CHILDREN, SIBLINGS, GRANDPARENTS, GRANDCHILDREN, NIECES, NEPHEWS, FIRST COUSINS, AUNTS, AND UNCLES… [Pols emphasis]
It's that simple, folks. Family members, including the example of a transfer to one's brother, are indeed fully exempt from the provisions of House Bill 13-1229. Persons to which HB13-1229 does not apply, as you can read above, include spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles. We have confirmed once again this with numerous authoritative sources this morning.
And why was an emergency in-triplicate reconfirmation of a fact we already knew necessary? Because the Pueblo Chieftain, a newspaper we have repeatedly called out for false reporting of political news, has committed perhaps the most egregious violation of basic factual standards we've ever seen from a Colorado newspaper.
Peter Roper writes today:
Democrats on a Colorado Senate committee challenged Pueblo plumber Victor Head this week on whether he misrepresented a new gun-control law last summer to get voters to sign recall petitions against former state Sen. Angela Giron, D-Pueblo.
But Head, a Republican who is running for Pueblo County clerk, was right when he told petition signers the new gun law blocked family members from loaning guns to each other indefinitely without a background check. [Pols emphasis]
Head’s testimony before the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Monday caught the attention of Internet bloggers Thursday as readers argued about the intent of the law requiring background checks on personal gun sales and transfers.
A subscription is necessary to read the full story. Roper quotes Head again claiming that anyone who someone loans a gun to for longer than 72 hours must have a background check performed. Amazingly, Roper makes no attempt to confirm if what Head is asserting is actually true, simply affirming that Head "was focusing on loans within a family and he was right, also."
But Head wasn't right. The plain reading of the law you can read above, as every legal and legislative source we have checked with once again this morning has confirmed, demonstrates unambiguously that Head is wrong.
It may seem like a technicality, but indefinite loans without a check — like a brother to a brother — are not allowed.
Folks, there is no nice way to say it. This statement from Peter Roper of the Pueblo Chieftain has no basis in fact. Gifts or loans to brothers, and other immediate family members, are fully exempt from the background check requirements of HB13-1229. Roper does not point to anything in the law to justify his assertion, only Head's quote.
The Pueblo Chieftain has crossed the line with this latest false report. We have been covering the factual problems with the Chieftain's political news reporting in this space for years. Last year, as one example, the Chieftain wrote a story about an "ethics complaint" against Sen. Giron that was never even filed, and got basic facts like what cities are part of Giron's district wrong. The Chieftain has consistently misreported on the fight by Pueblo County Clerk Gilbert Ortiz–Head's presumed opponent in the county clerk's race this year–against Secretary of State Scott Gessler over voting issues. This also isn't the first time the Chieftain has misreported last year's gun safety legislation.
But this latest example, promulgation of a blatant lie as fact, with no attempt whatsoever to verify statements asserted by a highly biased nonexpert, statements which are in fact entirely false, is without hyperbole one of the most worst incidents of failed journalism we've ever seen. A correction is not enough. How do you "correct" the fact that the entire basis of your story is false?
Perhaps the most depressing part of all of this is the likelihood that the Roper and the Chieftain will never bother to correct this story. At this point, we question whether the most basic standards of factuality even apply any more in the Chieftain's so-called "newsroom." This is a media outlet that is routinely, and we really believe at this point willfully, lying to its readers in ways that consistently serve one side. We don't know what more we can say.
In the end, perhaps only the readers the Chieftain depends on for its own survival can send a message they will hear. By any objective standard, this is totally unacceptable.