STEAMBOAT SPRINGS–While 3rd Congressional District candidate Diane Mitsch Bush makes no mention of her well-established anti-gun stance on her campaign website, she has none the less earned the endorsement of multiple hard-core national gun control groups.
Composed of 28 counties and part of a 29th, the mostly rural 3rd Congressional District covers all of western Colorado and parts of southern Colorado including Pueblo County. The largest cities are Grand Junction and Pueblo.
Mitsch Bush, the Steamboat Springs Democrat opposing Republican Lauren Boebert for the seat, has a long record as a supporter of anti-gun legislation. As a Colorado state representative, Mitsch Bush voted in 2013 for both the standard capacity magazine ban and the state universal background check that requires private firearms transfers, including temporary loans and sales, go through a licensed firearms dealer and a background check.
Those controversial laws led to the 2013 recall of two Colorado state senators who voted yes, including Angela Giron, whose Pueblo senate district falls within the boundaries of the district Mitsch Bush hopes to represent in Congress.
In an October 2 interview on Colorado Public Radio’s program Colorado Matters, Mitsch Bush said, “I proudly voted for universal background checks. Since 2013 in Colorado over 350 violent convicted felons have been stopped from easily waltzing into a federally licensed firearms dealer and buying a gun because of their convictions.”
The problem with this claim is that felons have been barred from buying firearms from licensed dealers since the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Moreover, since 1998 all purchases from federally licensed firearms dealers have required authorization from the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS) prior to transfer of the firearm.
According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) records, in the seven years from July, 2013, when all private transfers were first required to be vetted by CBI/NICS, through December 2019, the latest figures available, 2,249 private transactions have been denied.
CBI does not have information on the percentage of private transaction denials that are ultimately overturned on appeal, but a review of CBI’s annual reports shows an average rate of overturn of denials for state NICS transactions of nearly 30%.
One of the flaws of the universal background check law is that there is no practical way to enforce it because there is no reasonable way to detect that a private transaction has taken place, absent someone reporting it, or absent a universal gun registration database.
The law creates a big problem for rural Coloradans, who may have to travel very long distances to find a federally-licensed firearms dealer willing to perform the required background check.
This includes a check prior to loaning a firearm to a neighbor or friend for more than 72 hours, and another when the firearm is returned to the owner.
Firearms dealers are not required to perform the checks, and they can charge no more than $10 for the service, but must keep the records of the transfer forever, as they must for sales. This has the potential to dissuade licensees from agreeing to handle the transaction paperwork.
Mitsch Bush is endorsed by at least four anti-gun groups;
- Moms Demand Action, a group founded by anti-gun activist Shannon Watts, whose Colorado chapter volunteer Jane Dougherty said in a September Facebook post that the organization is going to continue “to do everything we can to elect Diane Mitsch Bush and keep Boebert as far away from Congress as possible.”
- The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (Giffords), founded after the near fatal shooting of former Arizona Congressman Gabrielle Giffords said, “Diane supported legislation to implement universal background checks and limit magazine capacity. Diane also supports various other gun safety measures, including closing the boyfriend loophole and enacting extreme risk laws.”
- Brady PAC, self-described as a “counterweight to ‘dark money’ Super PACs created by the gun industry lobby,” and a “sister” to the Brady organization, “backs candidates running for state and federal office who support universal background checks, reenacting the assault weapons ban [and] extreme risk protection orders…”
- The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence (Brady), formerly Handgun Control, which in the 1970s and 80s advocated for a complete ban on civilian handguns and, though renamed several times and now called simply “Brady,” is focused on banning, among others, the popular AR-15 semiautomatic sporting rifle, one of a class of rifles it calls “weapons of war.” It also advocates for banning “ghost guns,” which are firearms legally made at home by individuals and “high-capacity ammunition magazines,” among other anti-gun objectives.