As prepared for delivery by political director Alan Franklin before the Colorado Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs, Monday, March 4, 2013.
Good afternoon. My name is Alan Franklin. I am the political director of ProgressNow Colorado. We are the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, originally founded in 2003 as the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network. There are many ways to evaluate our organization's effectiveness in Colorado politics. One members of the committee may find useful is this: preliminary data indicates some 73,000 ProgressNow Colorado members voted in the 2012 general elections.
I am here today to ask gun lobbyists and Republican legislators to stop misleading and inciting the public about proposed gun safety legislation.
We could have chosen any of the gun safety bills now up for debate in the Colorado Senate, but the case of House Bill 1229 is one of such clear deception on the part of the gun lobby that the rebuttal to the campaign against common-sense gun safety legislation must begin here.
Closing the background check loophole is supported by an overwhelming majority of voters. One CBS/New York Times poll in January found that over 90% of respondents favor background checks for all gun buyers. The percentage varies in studies, but without a doubt a substantial number of gun sales in Colorado today are unregulated transactions where no background check of the buyer takes place.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the same quote-unquote nonprofit group organizing protests against legislators in this body, runs a paid-access website called the Colorado Gun Market, which makes bypassing background checks and buying a gun as a criminal simple. This is critical to understand: the group leading the fight against this bill is profiting from keeping the background check loophole open, and may even itself facilitate the sale of guns to criminals.
The fact is, the public overwhelmingly supports closing this loophole. That's why the gun lobby has resorted to outright lies, claiming that the bill would "criminalize and prohibit the private transfer of firearms." That is not true. All this bill requires is that buyers of guns, including private transfers which undeniably result in guns being acquired by criminals today, complete the same background check required at retail stores and gun shows.
The arguments against House Bill 1229 run the gamut from misinformed to truly nonsensical. Closing the background check loophole will not require registration of guns, any more than the background checks the CBI performs do today. The CBI supports this bill. And while it's true that criminals will still, being criminals, break laws including this one, that is not an excuse for failing to pass a law that will stop some criminals who would otherwise be able to buy a gun today. The provisions in the bill exempting immediate family members and other specific circumstances are appropriate.
In conclusion, it is not enough to tell members of this committee that the thousands of Colorado progressives I speak for today urge a "yes" vote on House Bill 1229. On behalf of every Coloradan who is disgusted by the right's unreasonable opposition to common-sense reforms, and willingness to misrepresent these proposals--even deceive their supporters to the point of provoking the kind of misguided outrage seen in recent weeks--I expect nothing less.