Showdown on Guns

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Showdown on Guns

by Ari Armstrong, January 21, 2000

In the wake of the Columbine murders, many Colorado legislators want desperately to "do something," even if that "something" won't stop crime but will instead damage the rights of lawful citizens to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

Will the killers win a final victory by sparking the passage of ill-conceived laws that make Colorado less free and threaten public safety by disarming honest people?

A slew of bills have been introduced in the legislature, many of which will be heard starting January 24. Following is a description of some of those bills.


Honest-Citizen Background Checks

Universal Background Checks

Senator Rob Hernandez' bill 089 would subject practically every gun transfer in the state of Colorado to mandatory background checks.

Hernandez' brazen attempt to treat all honest gun owners like criminals should demonstrate to Republicans once and for all that the more they compromise on the right to bear arms, the more compromises the gun-grabbers will demand.

Expanded Gun-Show Background Checks

Representative Ken Gordon is playing "good cop" with his bill 1242 to Hernandez' "bad cop" routine.

The Democrats really only want background checks expanded to all gun-show purchases -- this year. What's wrong with any expansion of background checks?

  • Background checks on all honest citizens who dare exercise their Second Amendment rights are inherently unjust.

  • Background checks harm law-abiding citizens by making it more expensive and time-consuming to purchase a gun for self-defense. In addition, many background checks wrongfully deny lawful citizens permission to purchase a gun based on inaccurate records. Faced with such daunting red-tape, many simply give up and risk victimization at the hands of criminals.

  • Background checks do little if anything to prevent crime. Criminals can easily resort to theft or the black-market to get their guns.

  • If the gun-grabbers' agenda continues on its present course, background checks will ultimately lead to government lists of gun owners which will ultimately lead to attempts to confiscate guns. Gordon chalks up such concerns to "paranoia" -- just like some were "paranoid" that the FBI had fired incendiary devices at Waco, just like Jews were "paranoid" when the Germans started to conduct registrations.

Juvenile Records in Background Checks

The CBI already keeps faulty or incomplete records on untold hundreds or thousands of honest Coloradans. Adding juvenile records will only further contaminate the process, making it even harder for honest citizens to buy a gun for self-defense.

In addition, many juvenile crime records are for non-violent offenses. This, along with the fact that many people reform from childhood violence, suggests that juvenile records alone should not prevent people from buying a gun for self-defense. Laws aimed at violent felons should not restrict others.


Age-Discriminatory Disarmament Laws

House Bill 1220, along with Hernandez' bill, would infringe upon the rights of lawful adults ages 18-20 to buy a gun for self-defense at gun shows.

At age 18, an adult can get married, have a family, drive a tank in the army, and be tried criminally as an adult. These adults should also be able to buy a gun for defending themselves and their families against violent rapists and murderers.


"Straw-Purchase" Bill Ambiguous

HB-1214, a Republican bill, states: "Any person who knowingly purchases or otherwise obtains a firearm on behalf of or for transfer to a person who is ineligible to possess or purchase a firearm pursuant to federal or state law commits a class 3 felony."

Because minors are ineligible to purchase a firearm, it becomes a felony to buy your son or daughter a .22 as a Christmas present.

Representative Doug Dean has promised to amend the bill. However, the bill is not even needed, since the law already prevents the transfer of a gun to a criminal.

Colorado law already makes it a crime to irresponsibly provide a gun to a minor (CRS 18-12-108.7).


"Information Sharing System"

HB-1106 would create an "electronic information sharing system among the federal government and the states... to exchange criminal history records for noncriminal judicial purposes."

Like background checks for gun purchases.

The information that will be swapped between Colorado law enforcers and the federal government include "notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, or other formal criminal charges, and any disposition arising therefrom, including acquittal, sentencing, correctional supervision, or release."

In other words, if you've ever been at the scene of a crime and arrested by routine, the federal government wants a record of it. If you've ever been arrested because of mistaken identity, the federal government wants a record of it. If you've ever been wrongfully accused and subsequently vindicated, the federal government wants to know about it.

Unfortunately, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation routinely keeps on file incomplete records. CBI currently denies people permission to buy a gun for self-defense based merely on an arrest record, even if the records state "disposition unknown" and no charges were ever filed. Then it is up to the gun buyer to prove him or herself innocent to the CBI.

Soon, the federal government will have these incomplete (and sometimes inaccurate) records, too. So don't be surprised when you as an honest citizen try to buy a gun for self-defense and the federal government tells you no.


Rapist Protection Act

HB-1197 claims it would prevent "negligent storage." Its actual result would be to have a chilling effect on the defensive use of guns in the home against violent rapists and murderers.

The bill reads, "'Negligently stores' means to place or leave a firearm in a location where a reasonable person would perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a juvenile would obtain possession of the firearm."

That wording is hopelessly ambiguous. Because gun accidents are so rare relative to defensive uses of guns, there's almost always a justifiable reason to keep a gun accessible. But which gun owner wants to go to court to make that argument?

Contrary to its wording, this bill would not be interpreted by "reasonable" people, it would be interpreted by politically appointed prosecutors and the bottom of the jury pool.


School Massacre Zones

HB-1245 would remove the only line of defense children now have against mass murderers in schools -- lawful concealed gun carriers.

No lawful concealed carrier has ever shot up a school. One school principal stopped a school shooting with his gun. So this bill is not a response to Columbine, it is just another mindless infringement of the right to bear arms.

The Representatives responsible for this threat to endanger the lives of our children are Windels, Bacon, Coleman, Gordon, Plant, Tupa, Kester and Swenson. [NOTE: January 31, 2000: The state's official web page was in error: neither Kester nor Swenson co-sponsored HB-1245. -AA]

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