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KUNC is here to keep you up-to-date on the news about COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus — Colorado's response to its spread in our state and its impact on Coloradans.

Firearms Background Checks Double in Colorado, As Coronavirus Concerns Spread

Background checks, a proxy for gun sales, have increased since the new coronavirus appeared in the U.S.

As the number of COVID-19 cases grows, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has received a “high volume” of requests for firearm background checks, a rough proxy for gun sales.   

From March 10 to March 16, CBI received 14,604 background check requests, compared to 7,357 from the same timeframe last year. 

In response to the 'extreme volume of requests,' the CBI on Tuesday announced changes to its system, including expanding business hours and reassigning staff.


Earlier this week, Anthony Navarro, the owner of Colorado Shooting Sports in Greeley, said his computer system was showing over 3,000 background check requests in CBI’s queue. 

Making a comparison to groceries and toilet paper, Navarro said his shop has already sold out of several types of guns and ammunition. 

“When people are scared, there’s that sense of grasping and hoarding mentality,” Navarro said. “It’s part of our DNA as cavemen.”

He said many of his customers are worried about the government limiting or banning gun sales. 

“We’re seeing everything from your standard client that we see all the time, all the way to liberal, democratic anti-gun people, buying guns for the first time.”

On pro-gun Facebook pages, members were posting about their experiences, describing waiting from a few hours to 48 hours for their background check to process.  

According to the CBI, wait times for background checks usually range from five to eight minutes but are now approaching two days.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include CBI's announcement of changes to its background check system on Tuesday.


As KUNC's Senior Editor and Reporter, my job is to find out what’s important to northern Colorado residents and why. I seek to create a deeper sense of urgency and understanding around these issues through in-depth, character driven daily reporting and series work.
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