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Lawmakers Propose Having Gun Buyers Pay For Their Own Background Checks

DENVER (CBS4) - The Colorado Department of Public Safety plans to ask lawmakers for $500,000 hoping to add staff to handle all the background checks for people wanting to buy guns.

Right now it's taking about a week before checks are complete. So far this year the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has processed more than 285,000 requests. That's about 30,000 more than last year. In 2008 the number of requests was around 200,000.

Gun buyers at the Tanner Gun Show are not too happy about having to wait a week for the background check to be completed. But some lawmakers think they have a solution that might make speed up the process and might be more fair to everybody -- have the gun buyers pay for their own background check.

The fight against high-powered rifles produced a lone warrior outside the gun show.

"I'm doing it actually because my granddaughter turned seven today," Karen Woods said. "I didn't go to her birthday party, I'm here as a gift to her."

Her opposition was an army of gun show buyers, just as determined to protect their gun rights.

"It's a tool like a hammer. You can lay that in the middle of the street for a hundred years and it's not going to hurt a soul," gun owner Kris Woodring said.

But what might divide gun owners is a plan to charge a fee to pay for the state background check.

"Maybe around $30 people would probably be, 'No way, I don't want that, you know,' " Ann McCall from Golden said.

Another gun show buyer argued that $100 is fine with him if it'll end the long wait.

"And you're trying to get one and you have to wait a few weeks and you might not sleep well because of that knowing you can't protect your family," Nick Coburn from Elizabeth said.

"It's a fee from government, it's a tax to exercise my constitutional rights," another man said.

"The right to own a weapon doesn't give you a right to have the taxpayers buy it for you," said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder. "Everybody else in Colorado pays for their background checks except people who want to buy a gun."

Levy argues that now is not the time to be subsidizing background checks for gun buyers.

"Particularly when we're searching under the couch cushions to fund higher education," Levy said. "We're trying to expand mental health funding."

The amount of the fee for a background check may be known by next week. Rep. Lois Court of Denver is behind the bill calling for a fee. She said money used to pay for background checks now should be used instead for mental health care.

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