Federal law requires background checks for gun purchases from Federally licensed Firearm dealers. Casual sales between private citizens who are residents of the same state are exempt under Federal law. Purchases across state lines between private citizens also require background checks. Under Colorado law purchases at gun shows, even between private citizens, have required background checks since the law was changed several years ago. Purchases as gun shows from licensed dealers required background checks even before Colorado law added private sales as well.
Last year Colorado expanded its law on background checks to cover all transfers of firearms between private citizens in casual sales, i.e., sales not in connection with a business of selling guns.
So how is the new law working out? How many private sales are actually being tracked under Colorado’s new “universal” background check law? Well, to hear the chief of the Colorado Bureau of investigation tell it, over 6,000 such private sales have already been processed under the new law since it was passed a year ago. Problem is, the number of private sales of guns that were processed by CBI the year before Colorado’s new law was enacted was also about 6,000. So what gives?
Most likely the CBI chief is reporting the number of private sales at gun shows and online purchases from out of state which much be processed by a gun dealer in Colorado and with a background check before the gun is actually transferred to the buyer. The numbers given by the CBI do not relate to intrastate private transfers the were formerly exempt from background checks. This conclusion makes sense because the number of such private sales has always been very low. Most people who have a gun they want to get rid of will put it on consignment at a gun store where the buyer will be subject to a background check. The new law on universal background checks is a solution in search of a problem. It’s also a problem itself for law-abiding gun owners because of the all encompassing way it defines what constitutes a “Transfer” requiring a background check. Reducing crime, enhancing public safety? No way. It has no effect on criminals. It needlessly harasses the law abiding who are no threat to public safety anyway.