In the first month that Colorado’s controversial new universal background check law has been into effect, a total of 10 people were denied firearms purchases, according to The Denver Post.
Both sides in the contentious gun-control debate are seizing on the figure as proof of their positions: Advocates say the law is working as designed by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, while opponents say the small number is far below what Democrats predicted during debate on the bill and proves that it’s unnecessary.
“It is a good indicator of how micromanaging everyone’s life has such small returns,” Republican state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, who fought against this and other bills, told The Denver Post. “Those 10 denials, if they are even accurate, are not persuasive at all.”
“I am not swayed,” he added.
But the bill’s main sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields, told the paper the 10 denials are a sign of success.
“I’m excited to hear that 10 people were denied access to guns because they were unqualified,” she said.
In total, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation performed 561 background checks for private gun sales in July. That’s 2.9 percent of all gun sales for the month, far below the 40 percent that Democrats said private sales represented.
Liberal blog ColoradoPols pointed out that the figure may not reflect any potential deterrent effect the law might have had on criminals who decided not to try to buy guns from private sellers.
“What these numbers mean is that 561 guns were confirmed to be sold to legal buyers, not to criminals,” the anonymously authored blog reported. “That’s 561 guns that might otherwise have been sold, if not knowingly to criminals, then at least without the buyer’s peace of mind knowing they didn’t sell a gun to someone who shouldn’t have one.”
Or it means that sales are simply continuing without buyers and sellers following the law and performing background checks, Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy told the Post.
“So, either the Democrats were wrong in that statement or a tremendous amount of people are not following the law,” Brophy said. “I think it’s the latter.”
The background check law is one of two highly contentious pieces of gun control legislation that has led to the first-ever recalls of two Democratic state legislators and a lawsuit against the state by most of Colorado’s elected sheriffs.
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