The idea behind the instant background check system is that it allows stores to verify the person purchasing the firearm is legally allowed to have one. However, sometimes you can’t get the background check instantly. For whatever reason, sometimes there’s a delay. Understanding that, though, lawmakers stipulated that after a certain time period. no return on a background check could be interpreted as a pass check. That prevents anyone from trying to restrict gun ownership simply by slowing down the background check process.
Right now, though, the NICS is bogged down like never before. After all, millions are buying guns for the first time, and that’s causing delays. So are state-based background check systems and for the same reason.
The sheriff of Boulder County in Colorado wants gun stores to wait on those returned checks despite the delay.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is reporting a historic swell in background checks for gun purchases. With the average turnaround for the process taking six days, the CBI said gun sellers have the discretion to release the firearm before clearing the background check if it takes longer than the window of three business days outlined by federal law.
Following a surge in state and national gun sales seen during the new coronavirus pandemic, Susan Medina, a spokesperson for the CBI, described the strain on the CBI’s InstaCheck Unit, which processes background checks. In Colorado, a background check is required to legally purchase a gun. The CBI is authorized to impose a $10.50 fee for the background check and a licensed dealer may also implement a $10 statutory fee, according to CBI.
While firearms sellers can complete a sale by default, if the background check exceeds the federal law’s window of three business days, Medina said the CBI is “strongly encouraging federal firearms licensees, if they have a check outside of the window, to hold the firearm.”
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle echoed this.
“There’s no way (without a background check) for a gun retailer to know if they’re selling a firearm to someone with a felony record, restraining order or domestic violence situation, extreme-risk protection order — all the things that could be critically dangerous,” Pelle said.
Then it sounds like the CBI needs to step up their efforts to get those checks done in a timely manner, then.
Look, it’s not on the gun stores to treat their customers like they’re felons. The vast majority are law-abiding citizens who simply want a firearm for self-defense or sporting purposes. They’re being forced to wait as it is because of something that’s not their fault, but to make them wait even longer than the law requires because the relevant agency wasn’t equipped for the demand is out of line.
I mean, yes, a criminal might well take advantage of this to try and obtain a firearm from a gun store, but that’s not very likely. For one thing, they’ll still have paperwork with his name on it. That means a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon at a minimum.
Further, criminals aren’t necessarily known for being all that patient. Sure, the high-end ones you see in movies might be, but the vast majority are street thugs. They’re not going to wait days. Especially since most know where to get a black market gun off the streets in a matter of minutes.
Gun stores can do as the sheriff asks if they want to. However, I suspect it will hurt their business at a time when a lot of businesses are already facing closure. That might not be the savviest move a business could make.
If officials in Colorado are that worried, then they need to figure out how to beef up the process, not try to delay people exercising a constitutionally-protected right