Background check requirement kicks in during weekend gun show


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) A state law requiring criminal background checks for all sales at gun shows gets its first test next weekend when the new rules kick in halfway through a show.

''This is going to be a good barometer of what's to come,'' said Allan Stanley, deputy director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which performs the background check.

When the show starts on Friday, the old rules will be in effect. Federally licensed gun dealers will be required to do background checks, but not unlicensed dealers.

Beginning Saturday, the second day of the show, a law approved by Colorado voters in November extends the federal requirement to every vendor at gun shows.

Nobody knows what the impact will be, Stanley said. ''Some say it will kill the gun shows. Others say it won't affect them at all,'' he said.

Gun-show business has boomed since voters approved the law, possibly because buyers wanted to beat the new requirement, said Jimmie Tanner, who runs the Tanner Gun Show in Denver.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation spent $500,000 to hire staff, buy computer terminals and install telephone lines to deal with the change. Forty workers will be available to do background checks on Saturday.

Some gun dealers and show operators predict problems.

Because background checks must be requested by a federally licensed gun dealer, unlicensed sellers must find a dealer willing to make the call for them. The licensed dealers, most of whom own shops, are not inclined to help competitors, Tanner said.

Tanner said he has found a gun auction house that will provide enough employees with federal gun licenses to handle all sales by unlicensed gun dealers.

Backers of the law said opponents are overstating potential problems.

''A lot of them are hysterical about this,'' said John Head, co-president of Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, formed after the Columbine school shootings to lobby for laws restricting gun access.

''It's not that big of a deal.''

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