GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. It's been almost half a year since several new laws kicked in that restrict the sales of firearms in Colorado, and according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the state has already performed more than 350,000 checks this year through last month, which is more than any other year.
"January through November 2013 have passed all of 2012, so we're definitely higher than we were in 2012," said Susan Medina of the CBI.
The December numbers haven't been compiled yet, but just over this past weekend, more than 2,000 criminal background checks were performed in the state. Gun retailers and the CBI attribute this to several things, including the holiday season, as well as a Denver gun show. But in the past we've seen drastic hikes in sales after school shootings, like Sandy Hook.
"After the tragic school shooting when everybody started trying to hoard, then we had a great influx of people trying to purchase firearms," said Brian Langfitt, a licensed dealer and owner of Pawn of Western Colorado.
With restrictions already in place, many worry that more could be on the way.
"Because I think they were afraid that the government was going to step in and regulate a certain segment of the firearms, so what they were doing was rushing to do that."
The new year will ring in more laws in regards to firearm transfers, that will likely increase the record number Colorado saw this year. On January 1st, all private individuals selling to other private individuals will be required to go to a licensed dealer for an authorized background check.
"In the past, a seller in a private transaction just had to have a general knowledge that the person they were selling the firearm to could legally possess the firearm," Medina said. "Now it's a new law and they need to take part in that background check process."
Whether or not the new laws and extended background checks have kept weapons off the street and out of the hands of criminals is still to be determined, but regardless, gun rights advocates still believe the problem is the person and not the piece.
"Blaming a gun for a shooting is like blaming a fork for being fat," said Langfitt.
Statistics from the Colorado Department of Public Safety show that nearly 5,000 background checks were performed on private sales from July. 72 of those were blocked due to prior criminal records.
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