A bipartisan Colorado congressional delegation has sent a letter to the FBI asking how a Columbine-obsessed eighteen-year-old was able to unlawfully purchase a shotgun in April.
"We must ensure that our state's background checks are as effective as they can be and that the proper steps are being taken to stop this from happening again," said Congressman Joe Neguse in a statement released July 23.
Neguse is leading the charge for an inquiry to determine how Sol Pais was able to purchase a shotgun in Colorado, even though laws in her home state of Florida call for a multi-day waiting period before a purchase and require that a purchaser be at least 21 years of age. Federal law dictates that gun purchases by out-of-staters must fall in line with both the laws of the person's home state and the state where the purchase is happening.
Representatives Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, Jason Crow (all Democrats, like Neguse) and Scott Tipton (Republican) have all signed on to the request, which notes that the presence of Pais in the Denver area led to the closing of multiple school districts along the Front Range three days before the twentieth anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, which killed twelve students and a teacher. (The two shooters, both students themselves, committed suicide.)
"The reports that a system failure within the FBI allowed this individual to purchase a firearm they should never have been able to possess are extremely troubling," Tipton says in that same statement. "We must get to the bottom of what happened."
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The five Colorado representatives are particularly concerned that state background checks, which are supposed to be more robust than federal background checks, might not be not as effective as intended. Their letter cites a 2018 Government Accountability Office report that found 112,000 denials on approximately 8.6 million FBI backgrounds checks in 2017, but only around 69,000 denials for about 17 million state background checks in the same year.
In addition to wanting the FBI to investigate the April incident, the representatives are asking for copies of FBI audits looking into state background checks and information on how often these audits occur.
Law enforcement authorities who were tracking Pais said that she was obsessed with Columbine, and after she'd flown to Colorado on April 15, she'd purchased a shotgun at gun shop located less than two miles from Columbine High School. On April 17, Pais was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound near the base of Mount Evans.
Following this shooting scare, Crow introduced legislation that would prohibit over-the-counter sales of rifles and shotguns to out-of-state residents. Currently, only handgun purchases are prohibited for individuals from other states. That proposal is still waiting to be heard by a House committee.