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January 23, 2014 08:02 AM UTC

Even More Data Shows Gun Background Checks Working

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: In maximum fairness, we should note one important item from the Post's Ryan Parker in his story Tuesday:

Officials and experts on both sides of the gun-control debate [Pols emphasis] said the big numbers were not surprising and that the data are proof the system, with the addition of new legislation, works.

It's tough to imagine Dave Kopel ever saying such a thing, but there you have it, folks. Original post follows.



Huffington Post's Matt Ferner reported yesterday, we hope readers are paying attention:

In 2013, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations processed a total of 396,955 background checks, the highest number of checks in state history. It was an increase of more than 50,000 from 343,302 checks in 2012, which was also a record year for gun sales.

A total of 7,351 applications for both private and retail sales were denied in 2013, at a rate of 1.85 percent. The denial rate in 2012 was 2.14 percent. The most common reasons for denial varied: 1,412 were due to an arrest or conviction of assault; 381 because the applicant had a restraining order against them; 166 for arrest or conviction of sexual assault; and 41 were because of a homicide conviction, and arrests or convictions for other crimes. There were a total of 6,198 private sale background checks from July through December, with 122 of those denied during that period.

"The vast majority of gun buyers are law-abiding people, and for them a background check is no problem," said Rep. Rhonda Fields, cosponsor of the background check law, to The Huffington Post. "But the new law is preventing significant numbers of violent criminals and people under domestic restraining orders from buying guns. That's exactly what we intended with our new background check law, and the stats prove that it's working. It's making our neighborhoods safer, and that makes me very happy."

Yesterday's Huffington Post story recounts data first reported by the Denver Post's Ryan Parker on Tuesday. It's unfortunate for Democrats that the success of House Bill 13-1229, last year's bill requiring background checks on most gun sales including private sales, isn't getting more press coverage. And in the case of the Post's Ryan Parker, we're sorry to report he still can't write a story about Colorado's new gun laws without major misrepresentation:

A Second Amendment expert said he was not surprised by the numbers, as threats of gun control boost gun sales.

"The people of Colorado consider their Second Amendment rights to be important, not only in theory, but also important to exercise in their personal lives," said Dave Kopel, an Independence Institute researcher, University of Denver law school professor and author of a law-school textbook on firearms law and policy.

Nowhere in this story does Parker disclose that Dave Kopel is in fact the lead attorney in the lawsuit against these bills, even though Parker does mention the lawsuit! By any objective standard of journalistic integrity, that's a huge problem. Far from a disinterested academic, Kopel's organization, the Independence Institute, raised an untold amount of money off that lawsuit. In response to Kopel's boilerplate about Coloradans loving their guns, Democrats have a Quinnipiac University poll from last November showing that fully 85% of voters support universal background checks. If Parker has room for this disingenuous quote from one of the new law's principal foes–whose identity as the attorney suing to stop the laws Parker fails to disclose–why the hell can't hard polling data on the issue ever make it into one of these ridiculously one-sided stories?

We just answered our own question, didn't we? What we have in Colorado's landmark universal background checks law is a policy that is working, and that is overwhelmingly supported by the voters of this state. The only people who seem to not understand this are the gun lobby's willing agents, and local media who seem inexplicably determined to run interference against the facts.

Folks, we'll say it again: the public deserves better than this.


20 thoughts on “Even More Data Shows Gun Background Checks Working

  1. This is the same situation as Obamacare. Until there is no political value left in lying, Republicans will lie and the conflict-happy press will let them.

  2. On the contrary, these stats prove the law either was not needed or is being widely ignored.

    During the debate over the gun control bills last year, Democrats claimed that 40% of gun sales were private sales that would be covered by universal background checks. According to this, only a small fraction of background checks were for private sales: less than 6,200 out of almost 400,000 total background checks. That's not anywhere near 40%.

    That means either Democrats lied about the number of private sales, or (more likely) the law is simply being ignored. Either way, that's not a success story at all. Repeal this bad law and save yourselves, Democrats.

        1. What number of disqualified buyers getting guns if background checks were repealed is acceptable to you?  Why are you OK with that number of bad guys having unfettered access to guns?

          1. Because they're going to get them anyway. If you can't stop criminals from getting guns, and you can't, why stop law abiding citizens from getting them? We don't make laws based on stopping "just one gun." Unless there is a benefit to the public that exceeds the downsides, there should not be a law.

            How can YOU justify this law when the numbers are so much less than Democrats claimed?

            1. These laws don't stop any law abiding citizens from getting guns so what are you talking about now? The second half of your sentence is a false premise.

              1. We haven't seen the appeal rate for these denials. The truth is, background checks wrongly deny thousands of law abiding citizens their rights every year.

                1. ummm . . .

                  . . . I'm sure you have proof of that assertion, right???

                  You don't have to list 'em all, how about just the first 1,000 or so here is Colorado??

            2. Also do you have evidence to show those unqualified gun buyers who were stopped got guns anyway? One wonders why, knowing their own records,they even attempted to buy guns legally in the if it would have been so easy for them to get guns some other way. Once again I'll proactively assume crickets. 

    1. Or they were private sales that were later exempted from required background checks because they were transfers between immediate family members (Can you say "thank you, Rep. Giron," Moddy???) . . . 

      . . . you're really not much of a thinker, are you???

        1. I didn't say that, dullard.

          First of all, I'd have to agree that your reported statements are correct, and you are, unfortunately, a proven liar. 

          Secondly, that's one example, it merely shoes that your conclusions are based upon insufficient thought. 

          Thirdly, I do believe that they are a large number of transfers that are occurring because gun owners are still ignorant if the process and requirements (notice, I did not say just "ignorant") and two, that a fair number of those always law abiding gun owners, are in fact and unfortunately not always as law-abiding about everything (especially if it's something that their gun religion finds ibjectionable).

          Never matter, these laws, like seatbelt a will save lives. And, just like seatbelt sit will probably take some time to gain broader use and acceptance. 

          Keep whining and lying, though. I'm sure you need the paycheck. 

          1. Dang. Please ignore all the I-phone related typos and autocorrect grammar problems above. I should know better than to try to comment for a cell phone. 

            Moddy, you can ignore all of it — you probably will anyway — I understand your limitations. 

    2. Logical fallacies abound:

      1) Just because there are only 6,200 reported (in half a year) doesn't mean that only 6,200 private sales happened (even in that half a year). It could just as well mean: (a) that some private citizens didn't know about the new law, (b) that some private citizens are openly flouting the new law, (c) that there will be a ramp-up period and things will be fine eventually, (d) that there isn't sufficient enforcement to enforce the new law (almost a guarantee…).

      2) The 6,200, while low compared to the 40% figure regardless, should be held against 200,000, not 400,000 – a half of a year's worth of sales.

      3) There were 122 rejected sales from private sales. Any one of those could have been a murder costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and up, up, up (investigation, arrest, jail, trial, prison, appeals…; nevermind the personal cost of a life or lives taken). That's a success even by conservative standards as far as I can tell.

      Gun law was in effect since July, so we have at a conservative estimate about 12,400 private sales per year going forward, performed by private citizens who actually care about the

      1. about the…  continuation of my thought to its conclusion before I hit the submit button.

        Or… private citizens who actually care about the recipient of their weapons being a law-abiding citizen.

        In the end, this is a mechanism that helps gun sellers be confident in their sale as much as it is a mechanism to keep guns out of the hands of bad actors or unstable and potentially violent purchasers.

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