Colorado Denies Many Gun-Purchase Requests; Appeal Reversal Rate Is Higher


About 3.6 percent of people who pass through Colorado’s background check for gun purchases are denied, the third-highest rate in the U.S., says the U.S. Department of Justice. The Denver Post says the data also show that Colorado has a higher percentage of denials overturned on appeal than any other state, which signals to some experts that the local net to keep guns out of the hands of those deemed unfit by law has flaws. Colorado’s denial rate trails the 4.3 percent rate logged by Tennessee and Delaware from 1999 to 2009, the most recent statistics available. Nationwide, the denial rate for the period was 1.4 percent.

Colorado is one of 13 so-called point-of-contact states where purchasers of handguns and long guns apply through local law enforcement, rather than directly to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation handles background checks for Federal Firearm Licensees, running applications through a combination of state and NICS records during the review. The system — federal or local — is only as good as the data placed in it. About 58.8 percent of denials that were appealed in Colorado were overturned. Between 2000 and 2009, 31.9 percent of 17,355 denials were appealed. Dave Kopel, a Second Amendment expert at the free-market think tank Independence Institute, said the high number of reversals suggests the federal government’s system, though it may contain fewer records, appears to be more accurate than Colorado’s.

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