DENVER - Gov. John Hickenlooper unleashed a barrage of jaw-dropping numbers for critics who often tell him, “Criminals aren’t stupid, they’re not going to sign up for (gun) background checks.”
“Well, no one told the criminals that, and it turns out that many criminals are stupid," Hickenlooper said Wednesday after signing legislation requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.
In 2012, he said, background checks prevented 5,000 gun purchases out of more than 320,000 applications.
Of those blocked gun sales, Hickenlooper said:
- 38 were individuals either accused or convicted of homicide.
- 133 were people accused or convicted of sexual assault.
- 600 were people accused or convicted of burglary.
- Over 1,000 were people accused or convicted of felony assault.
- “400 individuals had restraining orders against them from a court and we’re trying to buy a gun.”
“Indeed, if you want any proof positive that criminals are not as smart as some people give them credit for, 236 individuals when they showed up to pick up their newly purchased gun, we arrested them because there were outstanding arrest warrants for them,” the governor said.
“I don’t see how you can argue that this isn’t (of) significant value. Over 2,000 people who had violent history were stopped from buying a weapon” in 2012, he added.
Hickenlooper also noted that in the nearly dozen states that have universal background checks, suicides involving handguns are roughly half the national average.
A closer look at suicide statistics in those states shows “there’s still as many people jumping off buildings, there’s still as many people taking …intentional overdoses of drugs, but there are dramatically less (suicidal) people being killed using handguns,” Hickenlooper said.
Those figures are key, Hickenlooper said, because there are 20 percent more suicides committed with guns than homicides involving guns in Colorado, Hickenlooper said.
The governor suggested that the extra hurdle of a background check to get a gun may provide distraught individuals time for a suicidal impulse to pass.
“Often times that person who wants to commit suicide (with a gun) at that moment, when they get counseling, when they get professional attention, they get their lives back together,” Hickenlooper said. “And by avoiding that moment where a handgun seems so attractive to those individuals, they go back and have successful, constructive lives in our community.”