Colorado gun sales double; state trying to keep up with demand for background checks

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DENVER (KDVR) — Gun sales in the last week have doubled in Colorado, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the agency responsible for conducting background checks.

FOX31 and Channel 2 investigative reporter Chris Koeberl discovered more than 14,000 firearms were sold in just one week. About 7,000 guns were sold during the same time period last year.

According to Joe Oltmann, the owner of DCF Guns in Castle Rock, many customers are afraid what’s available today may not be tomorrow.

“The panic started with toilet paper, then moved to food. Then, obviously when people see bare shelves, then obviously they want to make sure they will protected if it gets any worse,” Oltmann said.

Many of the customers are first-time firearm owners who are learning how to use a weapon to protect themselves and their families. Oltmann says the dramatic increase in sales is something his store is prepared for and he admits business is good. However, he balances the benefit to his store and employees against the underlying cause and that gives him pause.

“The good part about this is that business is good for us. The bad part about this is I wish it wasn’t this good just based on the circumstances,” he said.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers also found the other fallout to all the guns sales is the time it takes for the CBI to conduct the necessary background checks on buyers. A couple of weeks ago, that would have taken about 45 minutes to an hour, with about 97% approved. Now, buyers will have to wait two to three days for the background check and final sale to be complete.

“The demand has created a current queue of nearly 5,000 checks awaiting processing,” the CBI said in a written statement.

The agency said it implemented the following changes to keep up with demand:

  • “Expanding internal InstaCheck hours of operation. (Public hours of operation remain 9am-9pm; however, examiners are working outside of those hours to reduce the queue.)
  • Cross-training specialized CBI staff members to assist in the background check process off-site to help ensure social distancing related to COVID-19.
  • Retasking employees to InstaCheck who had recently accepted new assignments in other CBI sections.
  • Making some modifications to the submission process for background checks.”

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