MORE

After the Connecticut tragedy, a record number of Coloradans seeking to buy guns

After the tragic mass shooting in Connecticut on Friday, Governor John Hickenlooper, no stranger to devastation, said the time has come to talk gun control. President Obama has also signaled his interest in policy changes. But thousands of Colorado residents are having a different reaction: They are looking to purchase more firearms -- and in record-setting numbers.

On Saturday, the day after a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and killed twenty children and six adults, there was a record one-day total of 4,154 firearm background checks submitted at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, officials reported yesterday.

Governor John Hickenlooper answers questions about gun control on Friday after an event.
Governor John Hickenlooper answers questions about gun control on Friday after an event.
Sam Levin

The post-tragedy surge in those seeking guns is not entirely surprising. After the Aurora theater massacre that left twelve dead and dozens more injured in July, Colorado dealers turned in 40 percent more background check requests for gun purchasers in the following days, as compared to the weekend prior. This surge occurred even as Hickenlooper was virtually silent on gun control in the immediate aftermath, saying that it wasn't the right time to talk about policy and that he wasn't sure stricter laws could have stopped someone like suspect James Holmes.

But would a tragedy on the other side of the country have the same kind of impact?

Apparently so, though, CBI notes in a statement that officials aren't implying any causality in these new numbers, saying, "CBI cannot speculate on the reasoning behind this weekend's surge as staff simply processes the requests, and has no interaction with customers."

Officials do confirm that CBI's InstaCheck Unit has been experiencing the highest ever volumes for firearm background checks submitted across the state.

Even thought the 4,154 checks submitted Saturday set a new record, the unit did process 3,001 checks the day before. And the Saturday number is not much far ahead of a record set on Black Friday, November 22, just a few weeks earlier, when 4,028 background checks were processed for firearms purchases.

CBI says that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is experiencing similar volume to CBI's InstaCheck numbers.

This local surge is already attracting a lot of media interest with dispatches across the state from gun dealers handling the increased demand.

Continue for more details on how CBI is handling the unprecedented surge.  

CBI says that, in an effort to address the surge in the past weekend's checks, the InstaCheck Unit brought in additional staff, "even pulling employees from other work units to meet the demand."

Signs from an anti-gun peace rally over the summer in Denver.
Signs from an anti-gun peace rally over the summer in Denver.
Sam Levin

And given that there is such a large volume of checks waiting to be processed, wait times jumped to nearly 18 hours of the weekend -- which is apparently an "unprecedented timeframe for a unit that prides itself on maintaining low check times."

But the unit, CBI Director Ronald Sloan says, is doing a good job.

"CBI's InstaCheck employees are dedicated professionals who take tremendous pride in providing exceptional customer service while balancing the critical public safety role they perform in the background check process," Sloan says in a statement. "The team routinely works well past operating hours of the unit to reduce numbers in the queue and subsequent wait times. I'm extremely proud of their efforts this weekend, and throughout the year."

As of Monday morning, there were 801 checks in the queue from Sunday. By noon yesterday, that wait list grew to 1,197, which included both requests from Sunday and Monday.

Here's the full CBI press release:

CBI: Record Number of Firearm Background Checks Submitted on Saturday

(Denver, CO) - The Colorado Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) InstaCheck Unit is currently experiencing a record setting volume for firearms background checks submitted in Colorado.

CBI received a record one-day total of 4,154 firearm background checks submitted for one day on Saturday, December 15, 2012.

Although 4,154 background checks were submitted on Saturday (December 15), the Unit processed 3,001 checks that day; therefore, the record from Black Friday (November 22, 2012) of 4,028 background checks processed for firearms purchases remains.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is experiencing similar volume to CBI's InstaCheck numbers.

To address the surge in this past weekend's checks, CBI's InstaCheck Unit activated additional staff, even pulling employees from other work units to meet the demand. Because of the volume in the queue (those checks awaiting processing) wait times exploded to nearly 18 hours this weekend, an unprecedented timeframe for a unit that prides itself on maintaining low check times.

Those wait times will remain high as the InstaCheck team works to clear the queue. As of 9:00 a.m. on Monday, there were 801 checks in the queue from Sunday waiting processing before the team can begin on Monday's requests. At Noon on Monday, the queue grew to 1,197 with the combination of requests from Sunday and Monday.

"CBI's InstaCheck employees are dedicated professionals who take tremendous pride in providing exceptional customer service while balancing the critical public safety role they perform in the background check process," said CBI director Ronald Sloan. "The team routinely works well past operating hours of the unit to reduce numbers in the queue and subsequent wait times. I'm extremely proud of their efforts this weekend, and throughout the year."

CBI will continue to evaluate the increases in the demand for background checks for firearms purchases by adjusting staffing of InstaCheck both in the coming days, weeks and in the future.

Citizens are asked to remain patient as CBI's InstaCheck Unit works to process the background checks for firearms purchases.

CBI cannot speculate on the reasoning behind this weekend's surge as staff simply processes the requests, and has no interaction with customers.

More from our News archive: "William Costello, accused serial rapist, linked to two more crimes but bond lowered"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >