In response to Colorado House Republican Leader Patrick Neville’s concern about an “unacceptable” two-day delay in issuing background checks required for new gun purchases, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which conducts the background checks, says it’s “balancing our statutory responsibilities with the need to keep our employees safe.” 

“Gun purchases are at unprecedented levels, and although we’ve taken all the steps we can to keep up (see previous news release), demand is outstripping our ability to complete the background checks in the 5-8 minutes to which [firearms dealers] and gun buyers have become accustomed,” stated the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder. “Like any prudent business, we staff for normal anticipated demand, and the current load is far beyond ‘normal.’  Right now we’re balancing our statutory responsibilities with the need to keep our employees safe.”

Neville, a Castle Rock Representative, issued a statement last week calling on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to do “whatever necessary to shorten the lines and expedite the process for a quick checkout.”

“These drawn-out wait times are unacceptable,” wrote Neville.

Neville did not return a call this morning seeking to know if he was satisfied with the CBI’s explanation for the background-check delays as being due to safety precautions and high volume.

In a news release yesterday, the CBI said that it’s faced an “historic volume of request for background checks,” up 227% last week from the same week last year. The agency received 25,468 requests for background checks last week, versus 7,773 during the same week last year, leaving a waiting list of 12,442.

This has resulted in a waiting time of four calendar days, up from two days earlier this month, the agency said.

The agency said licensed gun retailers can release firearms if background checks aren’t completed within three business days, per federal regulations, but the CBI “strongly encourages firearms dealers to hold firearms until background checks are completed.”

“The CBI has implemented changes to address this unprecedented volume of background checks, from expanding internal InstaCheck hours to cross-training specialized staff members to assist in the process; however, these efforts must be balanced with protecting the health and safety of employees and reducing the potential for community spread related to COVID-19,” stated the CBI news release. 

Patrick Neville and Dudley Brown talk recalls
House GOP Leader Patrick Neville & RMGO’s Dudley Brown

“The CBI is committed to performing background checks as quickly and efficiently as possible, as evidenced by InstaCheck’s average turnaround of less than eight minutes prior to COVID-19,” continued the news release. “That being said, the circumstances impacting communities across the state and the nation have posed significant challenges. The CBI continues to implement adjustments to address the demand, and appreciates the patience of FFL’s [federal firearm licensees] and their customers.”

Neville’s statement about CBI was distributed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line pro-gun group.

“Three days to wait when you are worried about the safety of your family, that’s kind of stress-inducing,” RMGO Director Dudley Brown told the Colorado Times Recorder. “I can’t really tell if they are doing their best, and I accept they are trying to protect their employees, but there are a lot of ways they can do it remotely.”

“You’re soon very likely to hear us call to suspend the requirement for concealed handgun permits,” Brown continued. “I don’t think you need to be a frothing-at-the-mouth gun nut to agree that making citizens go through rigmarole to buy a gun in such uncertain times is unnecessary. And it’s expensive, because you have to pay the fees and take a class, which costs $100 to $300. And you’r not going through the class now.”

“If you actually talk to people trying to buy guns now, you will see it’s a perfect cross section of society. It’s hipsters, people you’d never label as on the right. That’s what all the gun dealers are telling me.”