Background check backlog impacts would-be gun buyers in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Background check backlog impacts would-be gun buyers in Routt County

Elk River Guns owner Ken Constantine on Thursday discusses the guns he sells for tactical uses and home defense.

— Those purchasing a gun in Routt County could have to wait as long as seven days to take their new firearm home with them because of a backlog the state is experiencing with background checks.

Officials and a local gun store owner said the delay is a result of a sharp increase in demand for guns fueled by fears that certain guns could be banned in the future.

At Elk River Guns in Steamboat Springs, owner Ken Constantine held a stack of 30 background checks that still are pending with the state. He said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation had more than 11,091 checks pending as of Thursday afternoon, and the wait time is estimated to be seven days.

"It's just the way it is," Constantine said. "You can't be frustrated by something you have no control over."

But some customers are frustrated, Constantine said, and some people have chosen not to purchase from him because of the delay.

Before the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Connecticut, Coloradans purchasing a gun from a dealer typically had to wait between 10 minutes and an hour for the mandatory background check to be completed. Constantine said that business picked up at his gun store in the days after the tragedy. He sold out of AR-15 class semiautomatic rifles in two days. In addition to home defense, Constantine said the weapon is used by people for competition shooting and small-game hunting.

Assault rifles in particular have come under the spotlight after President Barack Obama suggested renewed efforts to introduce new gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Constantine noted that his store in Dream Island already was doing record business before the Newtown massacre. That business further increased in the weeks since, with there sometimes being as many as a dozen customers in his shop at one time. Things now are starting to quiet down, he said, partly the result of inventories of AR-15 rifles being depleted nationwide.

As for the background checks of would-be gun buyers, CBI officials told The Denver Post this week they have expanded their hours from 6 a.m. to midnight. CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina told the Post that 3,000 checks are being submitted each day.

"These are unprecedented numbers," she said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com