Gun policy: Democrats to push bill requiring fees for firearm background checks

Representative Lois Court.jpg
Lois Court
Since the shootings in Connecticut that left twenty elementary school students dead, there has been an unprecedented surge in Colorado gun sales. The demand is so overwhelming that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation says it needs more money for background checks. And now Democrats in the legislature are planning to push a new law that would require those who want guns to pay a fee for these mandated checks.

Representative Claire Levy, a Democrat in Boulder, has been very active in legislation for stricter gun restrictions -- most recently with her plan for a bill that would ban guns from college buildings. She was quoted in a Denver Post story on Friday about the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's likely plan to ask lawmakers for half a million dollars to help officials more quickly process the huge backlog of background checks in recent weeks. (There's been an increase in those interested in taking gun classes, too).

In the Post story, Levy suggested that gun buyers should pay a fee for checks to address the growing demands. Currently, there is no such cost for them.

When we caught up with Levy this morning, she told us that she was merely expressing her opinion on the matter and didn't have any plans for specific legislation. But since that story was published, she says she has talked to Representative Lois Court, a Democrat in Denver, who does plan to introduce legislation that would specifically require background check fees.

"The main concern is that we charge everyone else who needs background checks," Levy says, "but gun buyers get it done for free. I think it's a special privilege.... It's a taxpayer subsidy for their hobby.... In these tight budgetary times, we should not be subsidizing their hobbies."

Presser at the Capitol, fields, aurora.jpeg
Sam Levin
Democratic lawmakers calling for stricter gun policies at a press conference earlier this month.
According to Levy, Court is expected to introduce the proposal early in the next session. (We've left a message for Court and will update if we hear back from her.) Levy says it's a matter of priority, and that lawmakers on the Joint budget Committee should not be comfortable with giving CBI more funding for gun background checks -- especially since it would mean sacrificing funding elsewhere.

"What they are basically asking me to do is potentially take money away from another problem," she says, citing the state education fund as an example. "That's something [gun buyers] ought to pay for, and not schoolchildren."

In general, Levy adds, it has been upsetting to see the surge in sales in response to the tragedy. "It's a sad commentary on people's attitudes about gun violence and Second Amendment rights," she explains. "They are afraid that Democrats are going to take away their guns, which we are not going to do. And they say they need to buy guns to protect...their families."

But she adds that assault rifles, which have an increased value in response to the demand, aren't appropriate for self-defense. It is this kind of weapon that was used in the mass shootings at an Aurora theater over the summer and in the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy earlier this month.

"I think it's pretty sad that we react to the shooting of...schoolchildren...by buying more guns," she says.

More from our News archive: "Rep. Rhonda Fields on push to repeal death penalty: "An insult to crime victims""

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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34 comments
Jack Thursby
Jack Thursby

"Stephen, I would like to not have to pay taxes for farm subsidies or Stealth bombers, but I don't get to decide that" False comparison. The former serves to promote the growth of a particular industry while the latter serves national defense. You can debate over the actual MERITS of said programs/expenditures but to equate them to "freebies" to serve exclusively individual desires is intellectual dishonesty. A more accurate comparison would be vehicle registration fees.

Dan Brown
Dan Brown

It is long past time that became law. There are many loopholes in the current law that allow people to buy guns without a background check at certain venues. The middle ground that we can all agree on is likely: all firearms require a license, background check and training; no military style weapons; no huge ammo clips. These are all common sense changes.

Alfredo Abad Jr.
Alfredo Abad Jr.

wait a second??? you dont need a background check to buy a gun?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Mark D Eilenberger
Mark D Eilenberger

Joseph, "lame stream media"? That is sooo 2008 and a retarted Palinism.

Mark D Eilenberger
Mark D Eilenberger

Stephen, I would like to not have to pay taxes for farm subsidies or Stealth bombers, but I don't get to decide that. My elected representatives decide.

Joseph Crucia
Joseph Crucia

Just about everything DC does has been unconstitutional, and this is no different. There's an agenda at work here, and for anybody to think otherwise is either blissfully ignorant of the facts, or as criminal as these globalists who are trying to push said agenda. There's so much wrong with the Sandy Hook narrative pushed my the lame stream media that it's become bewildering. Does anybody really believe the story that they're trying to tell? Taking our guns really is their endgame, and we won't let it happen. The 10th and 14th Amendments need to be brought to the fore, and the 2nd Amendment is our line in the sand. No more NDAA, no more TSA, no more 'Homeland inSecurity', no more NSA, and this drone thing needs to be stopped before it gets started. NULLIFY!

Chris Estus
Chris Estus

Considering my last back ground check took almost a week to return, if they are going to charge they better find away to get checks done is reasonable time. If the people want background checks they get to pay for back ground checks.

Jame Koopman
Jame Koopman

Now there's the fix. How about emission tests on motorcycles, lawnmowers and chainsaws? We could raise a bunch of money on that. Or start charging a tax on the amount of calories you buy at a restaurant. Then, we could alert the government on what people say on Facebook too. I swear the world has went down the shitter. Hysteria and Paranoia. Def Leppard named two albums that.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

And everyone else does NOT pay for their own. Gov't employees and contractors don't and private employees nomally don't. The employer usually foots the bill.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Levy is not very well versed in the 2nd Amendment or the supreme court rulings regarding the amendment. I don't mind paying the $10-$15 fee, however, I would also like to stop paying taxes for welfare and other programs I don't support but that will never happen. The fees were not imposed on purchasers initially since it was a government requirement.

Laurence Spoo
Laurence Spoo

My concealed is $ 150 and it was $ 100 for my state and &120 for my class

Laurence Spoo
Laurence Spoo

Uh yea I have had to pay for all my background checks . 25 $ .. had to pay at the firing line, sportsman warehouse, jensons, front range,Gander mountian

Mark D Eilenberger
Mark D Eilenberger

Caleb, the point is that as a taxpayer I shouldn't have to pay for your background check because you desire a gun. Its your right to own a gun, but your argument is paramount to saying that I should have to pay for your gun because it is your right to own one. Dumbass

Mark D Eilenberger
Mark D Eilenberger

Aaron forgot about the 1st Amendment. People who know nothing about their freedoms should go off and shoot a gun instead of trying to carry on an intelligent conversation.

Caleb Mather
Caleb Mather

Any excuse for a new fee. Dems have this hypocritcal viewpoint that guns are evil, but it's ok as long as they can make money off of it. That being said, this particular fee isn't a big deal.

Aaron LeForce
Aaron LeForce

Hey retard westword writer, background checks are mandatory...this is why people who know absolutely nothing about guns should keep their mouths shut!

Mark Ewell
Mark Ewell

Second: "The main concern is that we charge everyone else who needs background checks," Levy says, "but gun buyers get it done for free. I think it's a special privilege.... It's a taxpayer subsidy for their hobby.... In these tight budgetary times, we should not be subsidizing their hobbies." ---> Here's the thing: It's not a privilege. It's a right. Levy should read the US and Colorado constitutions and get a better understand of the difference between a hobby, a privilege, and a constitutional right.

Mark Ewell
Mark Ewell

First, Westword, bad question in your post. The article isn't about background checks, which already exist, it's about fees.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Time to PAY UP ... you cowardly gun loons!

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

"I think it's pretty sad that we react to the shooting of...schoolchildren...by buying more guns," she says.

I think it's pretty sad that you punish responsible firearms owners in response to someone stealing someone else's firearms and breaking God-knows-how-many existing failed gun laws you effing nut jobs have already crammed down our throats!

Get rid of your effing defense-free zones. THAT is your problem.

I also see that media whore, Tom Mauser, in the background. Persecuting gun owners isn't going to bring your kid back, Tom.

Monkey
Monkey

A revolver made in the 1800's can be used in an assault, just like a rifle with a pistol grip can be used in defense. We the people don't want a background check, the state forces us to have one, therefore the state should pay for the privilege of us allowing them to perform a check. When you get arrested, do the police charge you for a background check? When you write a check, does the retailers charge you for a credit report? Background checks for firearm sales was sold to us as a public safety issue, to essentially prove our innocence before purchasing a gun. We the people are innocent until proven guilty, you the legislators are the ones that suspect everyone, so you the state should pay for your paranoia, not me.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

It's bad enough to have to be screened to exercise a right. Being billed for being screened to exercise a right is worse.

This is what the state does to you when you exercise your rights. Remember, the reason why so many people are running out and buying guns and ammo is a reasonable fear that gun grabbers will create some new fascistic regulation that will make it harder if not impossible. My point--the government caused this problem, and like a big ball of snow (or something else that starts with an "s") it all rolls downhill and creates a massive fiasco.

Get rid of defense free zones. THAT is  your problem.

Monkey
Monkey

@Mark D Eilenberger You don't understand anything. We don't expect you to understand the constitution either. The Second Amendment follows the First Amendment for good reason. We, as Americans, have the inalienable right to worship freely, speak freely, and assemble freely. We also have the right as Americans to defend that freedom, and the Second Amendment guarantees that right. I don't need a background check, you want me to have one, so you pay for it or stop checking my background, it's the same every time you check. Dumbass.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

@DonkeyHotay ...and who's more cowardly? Is it the man who defends himself with a firearm or the pussy who runs to mommy government to use violence on his pussified behalf to stop him?

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

@DonkeyHotay Time to fess up to being the real problem, gun banners! You're proof that alcohol abuse makes you stupid.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident 

Yes, of course, if only those school children had all been allowed to pack heat ... one of them would no doubt have become the Rambo hero that you gun-loons all aspire to be in your delusional fantasies.


Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

@Monkey Then they bitch about it when they create reasonable fear in firearms owners that they aren't going to be able to buy something in the future that they can buy now, and it has the effect of creating a surge in the market. Most of these idiots have no clue how the market works. More to the point though, it's their effing background checks, so they should pay for them; we shouldn't even have to pay in our taxes to exercise the right, let alone at the time of purchase.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

@DonkeyHotay  Because I said something, anything, that indicated that children should carry. More proof that alcohol abuse makes you stupid.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident

@DonkeyHotay See where I referred to anyone having a right to nuclear weapons. Still more proof that alcohol abuse makes you stupid.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident

Where -- exactly -- in the Second Amendment does it LIMIT the type of ARMS one may keep and bear?

Be specific, and show your work.


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