Vail Valley, statewide gun sales background check requests soar |

Vail Valley, statewide gun sales background check requests soar

Statewide requests up 227% over last year, says Colorado Bureau of Investigation

A few gun safety tips
  • Treat every gun as though it is loaded
  • Point it in a safe direction
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot
  • Make sure of your target, and that you know what’s behind the target, including the room you’re in, the room behind that and even your neighbor’s house.

Along with other non-perishable items, Coloradans are stocking up on guns.

“It’s not just toilet paper and handy wipes,” Eagle attorney Terry Quinn said.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says in the last week it received 25,468 requests for background checks for firearms transfers at its Insta-Check department. That’s up from 7,773 for the same period last year, a 227% increase, the CBI says.

If you asked for a background check today, there would be 12,442 buyers in the queue ahead of you and your wait time would be approximately four calendar days, the CBI says.

On normal days the wait time is about eight minutes, Quinn said.

Quinn holds a federal firearms license, is a firearms instructor and processes transfers of firearms between vendors and buyers, including online sales. When he submits an online approval application, the website displays a meter that tells you how many are in line and your wait time.

“Usually, on a day like Tuesday, when there are no gun shows going on, I complete the paperwork and file it with Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s InstaCheck online service, and get a notice that up to a half dozen applications are ahead of me. The wait should be something like eight minutes for me to get an approval notice,” Quinn said.

The CBI confirmed that eight-minute wait time under normal circumstances, prior to COVID-19. However, the CBI says it’s seeing an “historic volume of requests,” resulting in “extended wait times for these important safety checks.”

Alpine Arms at the forefront

Alpine Arms in Eagle is a pretty good barometer for local and regional firearms sales.

“Things are busy,” Alpine Arms owner Steven Grindel said.

Most of their business uptick is new firearms purchasers looking for handguns. Shotguns are a close second, Grindel said.

Grindel preaches education, training and more education, whether you buy anything or not.

“That’s more important. Buying it is simple,” Grindel said. “We encourage people to invest in themselves and their education. Purchasing is one thing. Learning to handle it responsibly is quite another.”

Alpine Arms has scheduled several events for this spring and summer, along with demo days and other training sessions, Grindel said.

Nationwide spike and delays

It’s not just Colorado.

“Spikes and delays in background checks for firearms transfers are being reported nationwide,” the CBI said. “The circumstances impacting communities across the state and the nation have posed significant challenges.”

The CBI said it is expanding its InstaCheck program and is cross-training staff members to help speed things up.

“It is unsettling to realize how many people out there are so frantic,” Quinn said.

Quinn is a firearm instructor. He has brightly colored plastic models shaped like guns as a teaching tool. In his classes you don’t get a real gun until he says you’re ready — not a bad way to spend your multi-day waiting period.

“The chilling part is, how many of those people buying guns during this panic attack know anything about guns?” Quinn asked.

When background check turnaround times exceed the federal regulation of three business days, Federal firearms licensees have the option of releasing firearms outside that three-day window. However, the CBI is encouraging firearms dealers to hold firearms until background checks are completed.

Gypsum’s Eagle Valley Rod and Gun Club announced to its members that its shooting range is closed and will stay that way under Eagle County’s public health order.

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