March 9, 2015
By Bob Cox
Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.
The various departments and divisions of the government in the state are deeply involved in the budgetary process for the next fiscal year. One of the early steps in this process is the Colorado General Assembly Joint Budget Committee staff figure setting.
Basically, the JBC gets the requests and the justification for funding from each department. The staff looks at the requests, analyzes the justifications and looks at some independent sources of information. They then recommend certain things to the assembly for inclusion in the state budget. The staff figure setting for the Department of Public Safety (working document) is 107 pages long and brings out one of those troubling duplication of efforts that I have railed about for years.
Colorado Bureau of Investigation has, among a number of other responsibilities, the task of doing background checks for persons who are buying guns and for those applying for concealed weapons permits. This year they are requesting, as part of the concealed weapons permit application budget, $407,687 spending authority to support the hiring of 7.9 technicians and to reduce the processing time for those permits. More than $300,000 of that is in the form of cash funds and the JBC does not like the justification. But the JBC, I think, is looking at this in the wrong way. Let me explain where I am coming from:
Let’s say I decide to buy a handgun. I go to my favorite gun dealer, pick out a nice .45 caliber model 1911 and tell the dealer I will take it. Now, I fill out a form, commonly called the 4473 form. This is not a registration. It is a statement saying that I am not violating the 1968 Gun Control Act, and that I can legally own the firearm. The buyer must sign the form after reading the section that, in part, says, I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law.
After the form is completed, I pay a ten-dollar fee, which goes to CBI and the dealer forwards the information to the CBI. They do what is known as an Insta-check and get back to the dealer, usually in less than an hour, although times vary, and then CBI either authorizes or denies the sale. I pass and pay for the gun and leave contented.
Okay, so I purchase the .45 and like the idea of shooting it for fun, but I also like the idea of having it for personal protection so I sign up for a fairly expensive concealed weapons class, complete the class and take the documents to the local sheriff so I can apply for a permit. I fill out a bunch of forms and pay another fee (much higher this time) to have a background check done. I am told that the background will take about 45 days (a maximum of 90 is allowed) and I go wait, visit the shooting range a few times and wonder what all the fuss is about. But, eventually, I get the call, go back to the sheriff and get my permit. By then I have decided that the .45 is a little bulky to carry and decide to go look for something a little smaller. Back to the dealer, where I pick out a good-looking compact .45 and a $60 holster. I fill out another 4473 form, give the dealer my ten-dollar background fee and wait for a few minutes while CBI decides I can legally purchase the gun. As it stands right now, the fact that I had two background checks in two months has no bearing on the third one.
There has to be a way the legislature can address this, and in the process reduce the expenses incurred by CBI. There has to be a way to fast-track someone who has had several background checks over a period of time, and there has to be a way that the time required for the CCW permit can be drastically reduced. Presenting the CCW permit to a dealer and signing a simple form saying nothing has changed should be enough to walk out of the store with a gun. Is this so complicated? Most of us would not risk a felony for misrepresenting something on the 4473 form in the first place, and we certainly would not walk back in the store if we had a disqualifying circumstance between the original purchase and the present one.
By the way, as I pointed out, the JBC is not satisfied with the CBI justification for the extra funding (known as BA-03) and they recommend not appropriating that portion of the request.
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© Robert R. Cox 2014