House OKs bill to end state background checks on guns

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DENVER -- Rep. Sal Pace, who's running for Congress in Colorado's rural, evenly split Third Congressional District, was one of four Democrats to break ranks and join Republicans in passing a bill that would do away with a state background check on weapons purchases.

House Bill 1048, which passed the full House Wednesday morning on a 37-28 vote, now heads to the state Senate, where its prospects are dim.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, argued that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check is redundant and costly.

"This bill will save the citizens of the state of Colorado $1.5 million this year, $1.8 million next year, and even more continuing on into the future," Waller told FOX31 Denver Wednesday. "In these tight budget times, we need to spend every dollar as effectively as we can."

If the proposal miraculously passed the Senate and was signed into law, prospective gun buyers would only have to clear an FBI background check.

Those opposed to the bill worry that that federal check often misses local arrests and restraining orders, especially those that have just been filed and are yet to be fully processed.

"In some of those locations, you may have some women who are filing retsraining orders and it may not elevate up to that FBI check," said Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. "I think whatever we can do to protect families and neighborhoods, if it requires a secondary check, I don't think it's a bad thing to do."

Fields ran for the statehouse in 2010, five years after her son, Javad Marshall Fields, and his girlfriend, Vivian Wolfe, were gunned down by gang members who wanted to prevent Marshall Fields from testifying in a murder trial.

"I think we should always err on the side of public safety," Fields told FOX31 Denver. "If it's going to keep a gun out of the hands of someone who shouldn't have it, I think it's worth that price."

Waller argued that the FBI background check catches 97 percent of the felonies and misdemeanors that the CBI check does; and that no system will ever be perfect.

"If somebody wants to commit a violent act against someone else, they are going to do that regardless of whether they pass a criminal background check," Waller said.