Gun Culture

Karina Vargas, paralyzed in shooting, testifies against repealing gun background checks

In December 2010, Karina Sartiaguin Vargas was shot while standing outside Aurora Central High School. Then sixteen, Karina was left paralyzed below the belly button. As we explained in our recent cover story, "Bullet. Proof.," the teenager eventually began speaking out about gun violence -- even testifying before Colorado lawmakers last year in favor of a bill to require universal background checks for gun sales.

And yesterday, she was back at the Capitol, fighting a GOP effort to repeal the very law she'd helped pass.

The bill to repeal the law was sponsored by Senator George Rivera, a Republican from Pueblo who came into office last year after Senator Angela Giron was recalled in the wake of her support for stricter gun control laws.

Senate Bill 94, which was co-sponsored by sixteen other state senators, proposed to "repeal the requirement that before any person who is not a licensed gun dealer transfers possession of a firearm to a transferee, he or she shall require that a criminal background check be conducted of the transferee and obtain approval of the transfer from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation." The bill also proposed to repeal the fee for the background check.

"It doesn't really make sense," Karina says of the proposal. When she heard about the bill and was asked to testify against it, she didn't hesitate. "I feel like if my testimony would make a difference, I'm willing to speak out as many times as I need to," she says.

After many hours of debate on Monday, lawmakers in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the bill on a three-to-two party-line vote.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Karina Vargas: How to donate to a fund set up for teenager paralyzed in drive-by shooting."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar