Universal Background Checks Working: Less Than 2% of Gun Applicants Denied, All Bad Guys

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 percent 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.


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.

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