An untold number of Colorado flood victims have secured their firearms with friends and family, without going through a background check, in an effort to mitigate any losses that they may incur if looters descended upon their damaged homes. Sadly for these flood victims, they are in violation of the new Colorado law that requires background checks for the transfer of firearms and now subject to arrest and prosecution for a class I misdemeanor. If convicted they would also be prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years.
This is yet another example of how poorly written this background check law was. While there were a variety of carve outs for activities such as sharing a gun at a range, turning your gun over to an armorer for maintenance, taking a gun from someone who is a danger to himself, and outright gifts between narrowly defined family members, there is no safe harbor in this ill-conceived law for these flood victims who need to take their firearms to a friend’s or relative’s house for safekeeping during the flood recovery. To do that, the recipients would have to perform a background check with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck notified law enforcement in his area that his office would not be prosecuting any citizens for what is now an illegal transfer of a firearm for victims of the floods. We have not heard any similar pronouncements from other law enforcement organizations or districts attorney from the affected areas. But, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy has called on Governor Hickenlooper to suspend HB 1229 during the clean up:
“Because of the extreme nature of 1229, the same Coloradan that was a good neighbor by helping store furniture, clothes and other house necessities became a criminal by storing his neighbor’s gun without a background check. Many people will have their home items in storage for months. We encourage Governor Hickenlooper to issue a suspension on background checks for those affected by flooding.”
Hopefully common sense will prevail, although it did not seem to prevail among the governor and Democrats at the state capitol this spring.
This ongoing debacle reminds us of an ominous quote out of Atlas Shrugged: “One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”