As the White House reportedly mulls even broader gun control measures in the wake of two of the bloodiest mass shootings in American history, the December Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut and the July Aurora theater shooting in Colorado, an Aurora lawmaker has plans to sponsor bills that would require background checks for private gun sales and limit high-capacity magazines in the state.
The Denver Post reports that Colorado state Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), whose son was murdered by a gunman in 2005, is working with dozens of lawmakers on bills which, if passed, would close the private gun sale background check loophole and ban high-capacity magazine clips that hold 50 to 100 rounds.
"It's a loophole that needs to be changed," Fields told The Denver Post.
The Huffington Post's Chris Kirkham reported that the private gun sale background check loophole creates an "invisible" firearms market that is severely lacking in regulation. Via Kirkham's report:
More than three-quarters of states have no laws requiring background checks or documentation during private party sales, increasing the risk of weapons falling into the hands of convicted felons, juveniles or those who are mentally ill. As lawmakers in Washington examine gun control measures in the wake of last week's school massacre in Connecticut, many advocates and researchers are pushing to extend federal regulations requiring background checks and registrations to private gun sales.
"Fixing this would be one of the single most important things we could do to address overall gun violence," said David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "A lot of people don't understand that this is the way the world works. It means that people who everybody agrees shouldn't get guns have little trouble getting guns."
Under the current system, federal law on gun purchases extends only to the first point of sale. Federally licensed firearms dealers are required to perform background checks on prospective buyers to screen out those with felony records, a history of domestic violence or mental illness and several other categories. Dealers are also required to keep detailed records of customers.
On private party sales, none of those restrictions apply under federal rules. States come up with their own laws governing the secondary gun market, and the restrictions vary widely, leaving an uneven patchwork of regulations from state to state.
Colorado already requires background checks at gun shows, but there is no legislation in place that requires checks on a private party firearm sale.
The gun control advocacy group Mayor's Against Illegal Guns, co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been pushing for mandatory background checks for private gun sales a top priority for reform for years and in December, the group sent a letter to President Obama asking him once again to close the private sales loophole.
Although, in general, mass shooting events have made little lasting impact on public support for stricter gun laws, polls following the Sandy Hook shooting suggests a bump in support. A HuffPost/YouGov survey from December found that 50 percent of Americans say gun laws should be made more strict. The poll found support for banning semi-automatic weapons as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.