Gun buy-back program canceled thanks to new universal background check laws

Greg Campbell | Contributor

A planned “gun buy-back” to be held at the Boulder County sheriff’s compound has been canceled because it’s too hard to get the Aug. 4 event to conform with strict new gun laws that require background checks on all gun sales — including for purchasers who intend to turn the guns over to law enforcement to be destroyed.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the problem is that the new law requires background checks be performed by licensed firearms dealers for each transaction. There’s no way to bring the InstaCheck equipment to the site to do the background checks.

And even if there was a way, paying a $10 background check fee for each transaction would be “unproductive,” the sheriff said in an article in the Boulder Daily Camera.

“The bottom line is what we anticipated doing would still be legal — but procedurally we can’t follow through with it at this time,” Pelle said.

A multi-faith group called Together Colorado organized the gun buy. They planned to give gun sellers gift cards and tickets to sporting events that had been paid for with $8,000 raised by students at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“The question is, ‘Can we invite people to safely get rid of guns?’ And the answer needs to be, ‘Yes.’ We need to be able to do that,” said Rev. Sheila Dierks, one of the organizers in an earlier article.

But the new law creates too many barriers to doing it easily.

The background check requirement is one of two highly contentious bills that went into effect on July 1. A group of Colorado sheriffs is suing the state to over turn the law, as well as one banning high-capacity magazines. Pelle is one of the few sheriffs who hasn’t joined the suit.

The laws were also behind efforts to recall two Democratic state senators who supported them and among several complaints by rural counties that have met to consider seceding from Colorado to form their own state.

Had the buy back event gone on as planned, Together Colorado would have turned the weapons over to the sheriff’s department, which would have destroyed them. Some of the destroyed guns were to have been given to a sculpture artist working on a piece about gun violence.

Pelle told the Daily Camera that even though the event had to be cancelled, the background law provides a “larger good.”

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