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Brady Leadership Testifies in Support of Colorado Bill to Close the Charleston Loophole & Create A Violent Misdemeanor Prohibition

Washington, D.C., May 5, 2021 - Today, Brady Vice President of Organizing Maisha Fields and Brady Colorado State Executive Committee lead Val Beck testified before the Colorado House of Representatives Judiciary Committee in support of HB21-1298, a bill providing the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the time needed to complete a background check for firearm sales and creating a 5-year firearms prohibitions for individuals convicted of certain violent misdemeanors.

Brady Vice President of Organizing, Colorado resident and gun violence survivor Maisha Fields shared:

“As a gun violence survivor, I can personally attest to the need for the Colorado legislature to continue passing common-sense laws to prevent gun violence. Our state has seen a worrying increase in gun violence, in the last decade gun deaths have risen by 52 percent.

This bill would ensure that guns are not transferred until a background check is complete, closing the Charleston loophole, a common-sense and needed measure following the surge in gun sales last year and the associated increase in background check requests processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This surge led to a backlog of approximately 9,000 background checks and at least one firearm transferred to an individual who should have been prohibited from purchasing a gun. HB21-1298 will ensure that CBI has the time needed to perform background checks and ensure firearms are safely transferred.

Particularly after the tragic shooting in Boulder last month, our state needs common-sense solutions like this bill. Individuals who have been convicted in a court of law for violent misdemeanors are temporarily prohibited from purchasing or having guns that they may use to harm themselves or others. We thank the sponsors of this legislation and we urge the committee to pass this important bill.”

HB21-198 will close the so-called ‘Charleston Loophole’ that has allowed prohibited purchasers to acquire guns through firearm transfers by requiring a completed background check before sale. Particularly after the record surge in gun sales last year, this bill is sorely needed. Brady estimates that there were over 601,000 firearms sold in Colorado in 2020, a 49 percent increase over the estimated 403,000 firearms sold in 2019. This bill will also prevent individuals with violent misdemeanors from purchasing or owning firearms for a set time period. According to research, male handgun purchasers with one violent misdemeanor conviction were more than 8 times more likely to be charged with gun and/or violent crimes in the future.

About HB21-1298:

HB21-1298 would close the so-called ‘Charleston Loophole’ by affording the Colorado Bureau of Investigation the time needed to complete a background check for a firearm transfer and ensure that the background check investigation is complete. The bill also prohibits the bureau from approving the transfer of a firearm to a person who was convicted of specific violent misdemeanor offenses for a period of five years. The bill also provides the bureau with additional time to review and make a determination on individuals’ appeals to the system.

About the ‘Charleston Loophole’:

Currently, federal law allows a “default proceed,” whereby a federally licensed firearm dealer (FFL) can transfer a gun to a customer if the federal background check is not completed within 3 business days of the background check request to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

This loophole in our laws is called the “Charleston loophole,” named for the 2015 mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine innocent people. The shooter – who was prohibited by law from possessing a firearm – was able to acquire his gun before the FBI could complete his background check. Although the FBI needed more time to investigate the shooter’s disqualifying records to determine whether the purchase was lawful, federal law allowed the dealer to transfer the gun after three days even though the check was not completed.

About Brady’s Polling in Colorado:

Just before the 2020 election, Brady and Public Policy Polling surveyed Colorado voters. This poll showed yet again that Colorado voters like the overwhelming majority of Americans want and support common-sense gun violence prevention policies. Results from this poll show that of Colorado voters:

  • 70 percent support a policy that would require background checks to buy ghost gun kits, while only two in ten oppose such a measure.

  • Two-thirds, 66 percent, support a waiting period for gun purchases

  • 62 percent support Congress passing a universal background check law, double those who oppose such a law.

  • Over six in ten, 61 percent, support the state’s recently enacted Extreme Risk Law, sometimes referred to as a “red flag” law

  • 56 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports universal background checks on all gun transactions

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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