Charleston Rift Enhanced Background Check Bill Faces First Committee Test
DENVER – Less than a week after Colorado lawmakers unveiled a set of gun bills in response to the Boulder King Soopers shooting, the first bill received its first major committee test Wednesday.
Bill 1298 amends the background check in three ways. First, it closes the so-called Charleston loophole that exists under federal law, which allows an authorized firearms dealer to transfer a firearm to a buyer if they have not received their verification. history within three days.
The bill would establish a requirement for an authorized firearms dealer to obtain approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) before transferring the firearm.
In addition, the bill would prohibit a person convicted of a violent offense from purchasing a firearm for five years. These crimes include third degree assault, threats, sexual assault, unlawful sexual touching, child abuse, a crime against a person at risk, harassment, crimes motivated by bias, cruelty to others. animals, possession of an illegal weapon or illegal supply of a firearm. to a minor.
The bill allows for an appeal process and gives the CBI 60 days to conduct a review when an appeal is filed and make a final decision.
It also allows CBI to block the transfer of a firearm to a person who has not received a final decision in criminal proceedings for an offense where the potential buyer would be prohibited from purchasing the weapon if they was found guilty.
For Joel Loomis, this bill is personal; Loomis is a part-time employee at Boulder King Soopers. He normally works up front as a cashier. He was in class when the shooting took place and learned about it on social media.
Loom is hooked up to a live broadcast that someone was sharing from the stage, and that’s when he saw the body of his colleague Rikki Olds.
“You don’t know what it is if you know someone who has been killed in a mass shooting. It’s not like the other deaths we suffer because it’s murder. It’s brutal. It seems random, ”he said.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Loomis, like many others, went through a full range of emotions and is still dealing with the tragedy. He visited the State Capitol on Wednesday for the first time in history to testify in favor of the bill.
“The way I spoke with grief is to try to make changes, because the other difficult part to deal with afterwards is knowing that someone could do the same thing again. They could do it today, they could do it tomorrow, ”he said. “It’s personal for me this time. And that only makes it worse, but this guy … there were so many reasons he shouldn’t have had this gun.
Loomis knows the new laws won’t be able to prevent every mass shootout or completely prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, but he believes these bills are a good start and could help reduce gun violence.
“I am happy that I can be a voice for change and potentially save lives,” said Loomis.
Others disagree with the premise of the bill and believe it could prevent legal owners from purchasing guns.
Taylor Rhodes, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said the gunsmiths had already closed the Charleston loophole themselves without legislation, so he considers this part of the bill unnecessary.
“It’s already happening here. Gun stores across the state of Colorado won’t move after these three days just because they don’t want to have any issues with their insurance, ”Rhodes said. “The companies will not allow them to transfer it because it is an additional responsibility.”
At the height of the COVID pandemic, there was a surge of people trying to buy guns, resulting in a long delay in background checks. Some background checks took almost two weeks to come back.
He believes this type of legislation could cause delays in the background check system.
“This type of legislation does nothing other than further restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Rhodes has no empathy for the Boulder shooter; he calls the shooter a domestic terrorist and he thinks that even with stricter gun laws, if the shooter was determined to get a gun, he would have it.
“This bill must be killed. Obviously, the authors of the bill did not give it any thought. It was a rush of emotion. We are all extremely sad about what happened, but violating the rights of the law-abiding Coloradans is not the solution, ”he said.
Instead, Rhodes would like to see the recently introduced gun bills scrapped and more laws introduced to allow for constitutional postponement, get rid of gun-free zones, and come up with more mental health reforms. .
More than 40 supporters and opponents have registered to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. The remaining bills will be the subject of committee hearings in the coming weeks, as the state attempts to determine whether these policies are right for Colorado.