Karina Vargas, paralyzed in shooting, testifies against repealing gun background checks

Thumbnail image for karina.vargas.cover.portrait.205x205.jpg
Karina Sartiaguin Vargas.
In December 2010, Karina Sartiaguin Vargas was shot while standing outside Aurora Central High School. Then sixteen, Karina was left paralyzed below the belly button. As we explained in our recent cover story, "Bullet. Proof.," the teenager eventually began speaking out about gun violence -- even testifying before Colorado lawmakers last year in favor of a bill to require universal background checks for gun sales.

And yesterday, she was back at the Capitol, fighting a GOP effort to repeal the very law she'd helped pass.

The bill to repeal the law was sponsored by Senator George Rivera, a Republican from Pueblo who came into office last year after Senator Angela Giron was recalled in the wake of her support for stricter gun control laws.

Senate Bill 94, which was co-sponsored by sixteen other state senators, proposed to "repeal the requirement that before any person who is not a licensed gun dealer transfers possession of a firearm to a transferee, he or she shall require that a criminal background check be conducted of the transferee and obtain approval of the transfer from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation." The bill also proposed to repeal the fee for the background check.

"It doesn't really make sense," Karina says of the proposal. When she heard about the bill and was asked to testify against it, she didn't hesitate. "I feel like if my testimony would make a difference, I'm willing to speak out as many times as I need to," she says.

After many hours of debate on Monday, lawmakers in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the bill on a three-to-two party-line vote.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Karina Vargas: How to donate to a fund set up for teenager paralyzed in drive-by shooting."


Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com


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33 comments
Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

"It does however go a long way to show how narrow minded and weak you truly are. " Ah yes, the reverting to classic projection when little Internet DWEEBS fail miserably to even make a token attempt at rebutting their opponent's argument (while expecting the audience to take their own at mere face value). All this demonstrates is how much of an "intellectual" COWARD you are, Oral Polyp.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

"Perhaps violent crime in those southern cities is high, any large city is prone to violence thanks to gangs and drugs that we have allowed to flourish in the inner cities." Here is the real gist of your "argument," Oral Polyp: high violent crime rates in southern cities should be considered as a "normal side effect of the prevailing culture there" whereas high violent crime in certain "liberal" bastions is due SOLELY to gun control measures and other "failed liberal policies" that "lead to the disarmament of law-abiding citizens?" Cherry picking at its finest, folks. "If I'm not mistaken murder rates in Texas have dropped 30%" Violent crime has been on the decline, overall, all across the country since its peak in the 1980s to early 1990s (the crack epidemic). Even places like Oakland, CA and Baltimore, MD have seen steady improvement in recent years despite still having more work to do. This actually undermines your original assertion about the purported "failed moral compass" you alluded to in a previous rant. Speaking of which, isn't a "failed moral compass" amongst a hefty portion of society very much an argument IN FAVOR OF stricter firearms regulations? If people cannot be relied upon to fully understand and adhere to basic standards of what is right and wrong, why in the living fuck should they be entrusted with owning and operating highly lethal weaponry? Perhaps YOU are the one who seriously needs to consider your overall outlook, Oral Polyp.

Firearms_Enthusiast
Firearms_Enthusiast

As a firearms enthusiast and a sport shooter,  I do support the background checks.  Where I live I have to do background for every gun I purchased and I am more than happy to do that.  I have nothing to hide.  I do not see why it is a big deal if you are a law-abiding citizen and a responsible gun owner.

BetsyR
BetsyR

Was the shooter using a gun which was purchased legally and registered to the shooter?  I doubt it.  You can make as many gun laws as you want, the bad guys will still have them.


It seems most of those who oppose gun rights support legalizing MJ.  Ironic considering pot smokers know they'll smoke whether it's legal or not.


I have the right to gun ownership and I'm glad we finally ended prohibition on MJ, too bad Hickenlooper is so half-assed about it.

Ora Abplanalp
Ora Abplanalp

Obviously there will be no changing of either of our standpoints on this issue and people who honestly care can look up the statistics in context and form their own opinion. I have found your completely off base statements about me quite entertaining to be honest. It does however go a long way to show how narrow minded and weak you truly are. I hope that someday you will open your eyes, let go of a little bit of that anger, and see the big picture. So until next time Sterling I bid you adieu.

Ora Abplanalp
Ora Abplanalp

Woah there nelly, come down off your high horse there for a moment. Perhaps violent crime in those southern cities is high, any large city is prone to violence thanks to gangs and drugs that we have allowed to flourish in the inner cities. But I thought we were talking gun violence? If I'm not mistaken murder rates in Texas have dropped 30% since they passed the right to carry law in the mid 90s. I love how you like to mix and match statistics to fit your agenda.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

"Look up Chicago, Detroit, New York,California, and see the "positive" influences these legislations " NYC (assuming that is what you meant), despite having some of the most stringent gun control laws in the country, has significantly lower violent crime rates than those in the major cities of Texas (a clearly gun-friendly state). Secondly, gun laws in Michigan aren't exactly "oppressive" as some of the other locales you mentioned, so Detroit doesn't even apply in your little anti-gun control rant. Much of California -- particular LA, SF, and SD -- have violent crime rates also comparable to or even lower than those of Houston, Dallas, or SA. While Chicago may very well be the gun nuts favorite punching bag, keep in mind that even local law enforcement admits that the guns recovered in much of the crime there originate from elsewhere (neighboring Indiana or even from the South) and that loosening local laws will not the least bit aid in reducing crime since much of it is tied to drug/street gangs and there has been a recent spike of gun shot victims that are minors (who cannot legally possess a firearm, obviously). Speaking of the South, it's rather telling how some of the following cities/states are conveniently ignored by the gun-nut radar: New Orleans (and essentially anywhere in Louisiana), St. Louis, Memphis, Miami, Atlanta, and Kansas City: all with significantly high rates of violent crime (some of which are higher than Chicago) and all in states with relatively lax gun laws but still don't receive nearly as much attention in the "liberal left wing" media. Hmm. "It's the responsibility of every law abiding citizen, I don't care if your black, white, brown, yellow, or green, to be prepared to protect theirselves[sic] and their family from harm." Sounds like you're advocate for MANDATORY firearm ownership...much like in Switzerland...but wait...that country, along with much of the rest of the industrialized world, strictly regulates firearm possession and sale and violent crime rates there pale in comparison to "freedum luvin' 'Merka." So much for the individual "liberty" you and your fellow nutters trump. Anyone else see the irony of some DWEEBY little community college dropout imploring others to "get educated?" Sorry, buddy, but a real education actually involves you paying attention in class and doing your homework by relying upon RELIABLE, SCHOLARLY sources instead of reverting to your cherished ideological blogger heads who merely relink to one another to give the appearance of professionalism. You cannot deny cold, harsh reality. Back to class, DWEEB.

Scott Ingalsbe
Scott Ingalsbe

Cross the border and move to Wyoming. No permit needed to carry. When's the last time you heard wyo have a school shooting etc etc

Ora Abplanalp
Ora Abplanalp

Wow, I almost forgot that 1+2=dolphin in liberal logic. The generalization and name calling goes a long way in showing how you keep an open mind and are tolerant of other peoples belief structures :) I'm going to strongly disagree with your bullying with bullets comment, I'm sorry that your left wing media that you so worship does not mention the crimes that are prevented by there being a weapon in the intended victims hand. The majority of the time never a shot fired. The vast majority of people responsible enough to carry a concealed weapon legally never want to take a life, merely preserve theirs and their own. Kind of like a fire extinguisher, I hope I never have to use it, but it's always there just in case. No matter what legislation they pass the mentally ill, the substance abuser, ect, will still have access to guns. Hey, while we are at it let's make heroin illegal in CO....... Oh wait..... Still easily obtainable?!? If the person wants it bad enough they will get their hands on it. So I ask you Sterling, to actually educate yourself on the subject of the effects of gun control. Look up Chicago, Detroit, New York,California, and see the "positive" influences these legislations have had. You cannot argue with facts my friend. It's the responsibility of every law abiding citizen, I don't care if your black, white, brown, yellow, or green, to be prepared to protect theirselves and their family from harm. Let's face it, the police are not always around the corner and there is no arguing that this country has lost its moral compass and is a violent place.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

The reality is that all criminals were once "law abiding citizens" that any currently "law abiding citizen" is capable of committing crime. Let's be honest with ourselves. The term "law abiding citizen" is really just wing nut code term (of which there are a myriad throughout history) for scared (possibly impotent) predominately suburban/rural white males. The laws aren't just meant to keep firearms out of already verified criminals but also to make it extremely difficult for those who may exhibit a strong inclination to commit violent criminal acts (mentally/emotionally unstable, struggling with substance abuse, exhibiting extreme antisocial tendencies a la Danny Butt Boy Queen IV, etc.). After all, most violent crime involves the victim and the offender being familiar with one another, so the "random criminal/intruder" narrative so often trumpeted by right-wing crack pots applies only to a small minority (no pun intended) of violent criminal acts. In fact, many (if not most) of the "millions" of purported acts of "self-defense" repeated by gun nuts were very likely acts of INTIMIDATION on the part of the "law abiding citizen" in order to settle a personal dispute with a rival...in other words, good ole fashioned bullying but with bullets. Sorry, Oral Polyp, but a truly reasonable and truly law-abiding PERSON (not just citizen) would not feel anywhere nearly as inconvenienced as the vast majority of impotent gun nuts whose true aims are to amass a huge personal cache to hopefully one day carry out their vigilantist fantasies (a la George Zimmerman). Besides, even after accounting for recent legislation, to obtain a firearm in the state of CO still requires fewer hoops to jump through as opposed to operating and owning a motor vehicle for use on public roadways. Get over yourself.....DWEEB.

Matt Leising
Matt Leising

Though what happened to her was very tragic, how would any of this legislation stopped her shooter or future shooters for that matter? She was shot by accident by, you guessed it, a gang member in retaliation for an attack that happened over the summer by a kid that went to that high school that was/is involved in gangs. I find it interesting that in almost half of these shootings gangs are involved but that conversation hasn't come up once in the name of public safety, just legislation to disarm those that actually listen to gun laws. It's time to finally look outside the box to find a REAL solution to this issue. Guns can't be the heart of the issue being they have ALWAYS been here so it's time to stop trying to blame them and find a real answer to the question as to why this happens and how to stop it, whatever that answer may be.

Ora Abplanalp
Ora Abplanalp

Laws like this are pretty idiotic. They are put in place to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, who last time I checked were criminals bc they don't follow the laws. Therefore making the another hoop for law abiding citizens to jump through doing nothing but adding time and cost to the process

Lori Payne
Lori Payne

Good for you Karina, keep fighting!

Marcelino Casias
Marcelino Casias

Your argument against is pretty idiotic. Based on your premise, why have ANY laws or legislation?

Ora Abplanalp
Ora Abplanalp

Don't misunderstand me, it's a horrible thing that happened to this girl, but more legislation is not the answer.

Ora Abplanalp
Ora Abplanalp

Yay gun control.... I'm sure that keeping this bill in place will keep the guns out of the criminals hands.... I mean look at how drastically the magazine capacity laws have affected gun violence... And just look at the local news lately on how this law has kept our communities safe.... Please insert an immense amount of sarcasm while reading this :)

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Guntards want to Paralyze Teenagers



HistoryRepeats
HistoryRepeats

too bad this chick's big mouth wasn't paralyzed as well. the animals and gangs in the hood aren't going anywhere, bitch. nor do they care about gun laws. are you just too stupid to realize this? quit crying and MOVE out of the hood or shut the fu** up and help your neighbors defend their families.

RustyShackleford
RustyShackleford

Background checks themselves aren't the issue - the real issue has to do with the ready availability of rapid-fire weapons to the general public.

Let's stop harping on gun-fetish minutiae - it doesn't matter if it's semi-auto, full-auto, pump-action, lever-action or bolt-action. If a firearm can shoot multiple times without requiring an explicit reloading step between each shot, it has no business being in the hands of every J. Random Gunnut out there...

HistoryRepeats
HistoryRepeats

another mentally ill selfish lib-tard who wants my family to be victimized and defenseless because she was. all these 'gun control' measures are baby-steps to a registration scheme which ALWAYS leads to confiscation. ask the lib-tards in California who are right now having their guns confiscated at gun-point by steroid addled goons about 'gun control'....

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@BetsyR  ... where in the 2nd Amendment does it say "bad guys" can't keep and bear arms?

RustyShackleford
RustyShackleford

@HistoryRepeats Invocation of Godwin's Law - FAIL

Invocation of Al*x J*n*s goofball conspiracy theories - FAIL


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