Colorado's new background checks law is working, according to recent stats released by the state's Department of Public Safety.
The latest data published on the Colorado House Democrats website Wednesday shows that of the 4,792 background checks on private sales that were performed since the law went into effect, "72 sales were blocked because the would-be buyer was convicted of or charged with a serious crime, or was under a domestic restraining order."
Colorado's expanded background checks law closed a loophole that previously allowed gun buyers to purchase a weapon without having to undergo a background check if they bought it through a private sale. It was one of the contentious gun bills that passed and prompted the successful recalls of two state Senators, the resignation of a third and lawsuits by gun groups and most of the state's elected sheriffs.
Not one Republican voted for the expanded background checks bill, the bill limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, or the bill requiring gun buyers to pay their own background check fees. Only one gun-control bill out of the seven that were originally proposed by the Democrats this year, received any Republican backing -- a bill requiring in-person handgun training for applicants seeking a concealed carry permit.
Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) sponsored the bill with now-Senate President Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) and Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver), ultimately passing a law that, just one month later, the U.S. Congress could not.
"Dozens of criminals would be walking around with a gun right now if not for the new law,” Fields said in a statement. “Our intention was to make our communities safer and make it harder for criminals to get guns. We now have five months of data that prove that the law is working.”
The 72 sales were blocked because of crimes that included homicide, sexual assault, assault, drugs and others. The other 98 percent of sales "went through without a hitch" for law-abiding citizens, according to Colorado House Democrats' release.
"People can go on to own any gun of their choosing provided they pass a background check," Carroll said back in March after the bill passed the Senate. "If we fail to close this loophole, we are saying, 'the difference between law abiding citizens and criminals isn't worth making'."
Despite the success, the background checks law is still under fire.
Just last month, a federal judge partially dismissed a lawsuit filed against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state challenging the legality of the new gun-control laws, ruling the the 55 sheriffs who signed on as plaintiffs cannot sue in their official capacity. The ruling does not stop the suit completely though, since there are 21 other plaintiffs -- including individuals and gun groups -- who do have legal standing, so the court still has to consider whether limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and requiring universal background checks in Colorado is constitutional.