Pressured by Obama, Biden & Co., Colorado Democrats prepare to set a liberal example.
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HB 1228: Requires that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation charge, and guy buyers pay, a fee for the “instant background check” required to buy guns from licensed dealers. Unfortunately, the Bureau will determine the fee itself by including “direct and indirect costs” and there is no limitation in the bill on how many employees the Bureau can hire to process background checks. Instead the Bureau simply will justify the fee by telling the legislature how many employees it has for these purposes.
It is vanishingly rare to find a situation in which government mandates a fee on a citizen who is trying to exercise a constitutional right. Poll taxes are unconstitutional, and the government doesn’t require a direct fee in order to be able to exercise speech, religion, or press rights as those fees would likely be immediately struck down by courts.
Although, other than the serious issue of impeding the exercise of a fundamental right, having someone pay a fee for a service that person uses sounds reasonable, this bill fits into what many Colorado Republicans believe is a strategy to de facto cripple gun rights by making the transfer of guns difficult and unaffordable.
And that is where the worst of the Colorado Democrats’ bills comes into play:
HB 1229: Criminalizes many private transfers (to include borrowing and lending) of guns without a background check. Unless specifically exempted by the law, this would require a private person selling or giving or loaning a gun to another private person to have a background check performed on the recipient.
That background check would have to go through a licensed firearms dealer, who would charge a fee in addition to the fee charged by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The legislation limits the fee charged by the dealer to $10, which simply means that few dealers will agree to provide the service — which is of course the Democrats’ true goal.
Violating this law could mean 18 months in jail and losing for two years the right to possess a gun in Colorado.
The so-called exception to prevent death or serious injury is deceitful and meaningless. After all, if someone is going to use another person’s gun to protect himself, it is most likely that that someone is not in his own home, but in the gun owner’s home, to which this exception would not apply. Secondly, even in the unusual situation that a person was at risk of death or injury from, for example, a home invasion, and had access to another person’s gun at the time (e.g. a woman who carries concealed is visiting her boyfriend, and her boyfriend grabs her gun when he hears someone breaking in), the text of this law means that he’s only able to use the weapon if he believes he is at risk, but not if his fear is that the person whose gun he is using is at risk. In other words, a guy can borrow his girlfriend’s gun at his house — but not her house — if he wants to protect himself but not if his real fear is her safety. In that case, she’s on her own.
The original bill did not allow an exception for transfers while target shooting, and the Democrats have realized what a huge problem that was. (Its absence is just the latest proof of the complete lack of understanding by most Democrats of how ordinary Americans use guns.) But even this section of exceptions is less than meets the eye because it requires that the loan of the gun happen while target shooting or while hunting. This means that if I have a gun you would like to try (especially since most people don’t have a shooting area at home), I can’t lend you the gun without either getting a background check done on you or going with you to use the gun, neither of which is likely to be convenient. And nobody will spend the time or money to get a background check done on a friend or nephew.
As State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray), a stalwart champion of gun rights, points out, “It is already illegal to sell a gun to someone you know or reasonably think can’t possess a firearm, so the ban on private sales does nothing to improve safety; it just makes it illegal to loan or give a gun to a friend, even one you have known your whole life.”
Also, particularly in rural America (bitterly clinging to their guns and religion, dontcha know), guns are often loaned or given as gifts between family members such as nephews and uncles, or in-laws and sons-in-law, none of which is covered by the family exemption.
Senator Brophy: “Not one of these bills does anything to make the average Coloradan safer — some make us less safe. Even Democrat Senate President John Morse acknowledged that the bills wouldn’t make us safer.”
The bills must pass the State Senate to reach the governor. At this time, passage seems likely as three Democrats would have to vote with all the Republicans to block the measures, and Governor Hickenlooper is on record supporting three of the measures, and likely to support banning guns on college campuses.
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