The Sara Warren Story

We’ve been talking for a long time about how idiotic, insane, ridiculous, and unenforceable some of the new gun laws are.  Most of our ire has been focused on HB-1224 (and it’s associated laws), the insane standard capacity magazine ban.

But we also knew there were serious issues with the background check law – and no one listened.

Well one woman in Loveland is paying attention now, and we should be learning from her story.

I talked to Sara Warren this week to make sure that the story that’s being reported was an accurate one.  I’ll tell ya: she’s upset at the way she’s been treated, she’s taking responsibility for her own safety, and this situation could happen to any of us.   Here is what the Reporter-Herald is saying.

Sara is studying to be a Registered Nurse and like most Coloradans, money is tight.  In order to make ends meet, she’s cleaning houses… which puts her in unfamiliar and often dangerous situations on a regular basis.  It takes a lot of trust to go into a stranger’s home and stay there for huge chunks of time.  Talk about your perfect Fringe Area! (no immediate hope of rescue, few/no witnesses, unsuspecting pool of potential victims…)

Thankfully, Sara recognizes the danger in this situation (not a fear, an actual danger – and there’s a difference) and has made the decision to protect herself, particularly in those locations where her husband cannot accompany her.  But since she doesn’t yet have her Concealed Handgun Permit (she’s working on that – I mentioned money is tight, didn’t I?), she’s limited legally to open carrying – a topic that has certainly seen the rounds on this blog.

So enter March 28th.  Sara’s open carrying in the car because of her job and she’s in a car accident.  A bad one.  According to her, her kidney was “basically cut in half.”  Here’s Sara, in horrible pain, her gun had been knocked loose and was on the floorboard of her car, the ambulance arrives, and not wanting to leave her gun in her car, which she was being whisked out of, she brings it with her.  Uh oh.

The paramedics treating her took her firearm (that’s transfer #1 if you’re keeping score) so that they could keep control of it – a good move, in my opinion.  When they got to the hospital, they gave her gun to a hospital orderly (transfer #2), who then gave it to a supervisor (#3).  At some point a responding police officer ended up with it (#4) who transferred it to the evidence locker, maintained by the evidence gremlin (#5).

Here’s a refresher on State Law (C.R.S. 18-12-112 so you can look it up for yourself):

  • (1) (a) On and after July 1, 2013, except as described in subsection (6) of this section, before any person who is not a licensed gun dealer, as defined in section 12-26.1-106 (6), C.R.S., transfers or attempts to transfer possession of a firearm to a transferee, he or she shall:

    (I) Require that a background check, in accordance with section 24-33.5-424, C.R.S., be conducted of the prospective transferee; and

    (II) Obtain approval of a transfer from the bureau after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer, in accordance with section 24-33.5-424, C.R.S.

If you’re like me, your first question is “well who is a transferee?”  Let me help: “(b) As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise, “transferee” means a person who desires to receive or acquire a firearm from a transferor.”

Hmm… “to receive or acquire.”  Interesting language.  Clearly the people in Sara’s story had no desire to actually acquire a beautiful Ruger SR9c like this one:

I’m assuming that everyone in this story is indeed a good person and I have no reason to believe otherwise.  But there’s that interesting word “receive” in the law.  Were the people in this story trying to “receive” the firearm?  Really?

It wasn’t a Peyton Manning pass, but absolutely they were!!  I’ll continue:

  • “(3) (a) A prospective firearm transferee under this section shall not accept possession of the firearm unless the prospective firearm transferor has obtained approval of the transfer from the bureau after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer, as described in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section.”

So just for fun here, let’s count the criminals in this story: first we have Sara, then we have the crazy paramedics who took possession of the gun in the ambulance, then the people at the hospital, then the cops, then the evidence gremlin.  I count at least 4 or 5 and that’s assuming I haven’t missed several along the way.

And just because I love this law so much, let’s look at the list of exceptions just to make sure Sara isn’t covered under part of the law:

  • (6) The provisions of this section do not apply to:

    (a) A transfer of an antique firearm, as defined in 18 U.S.C. sec. 921(a) (16), as amended, or a curio or relic, as defined in 27 CFR 478.11, as amended;  DOES NOT APPLY

    (b) A transfer that is a bona fide gift or loan between immediate family members, which are limited to spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles; ALSO DOES NOT APPLY

    (c) A transfer that occurs by operation of law or because of the death of a person for whom the prospective transferor is an executor or administrator of an estate or a trustee of a trust created in a will; THANK GOD, BUT SARA DIDN’T DIE IN THE ACCIDENT; DOES NOT APPLY

    (d) A transfer that is temporary and occurs while in the home of the unlicensed transferee if: THIS WASN’T IN THE HOME, SO NONE OF PART (D) APPLIES

    (I) The unlicensed transferee is not prohibited from possessing firearms; and

    (II) The unlicensed transferee reasonably believes that possession of the firearm is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the unlicensed transferee;

    (e) A temporary transfer of possession without transfer of ownership or a title to ownership, which transfer takes place:

    (I) At a shooting range located in or on premises owned or occupied by a duly incorporated organization organized for conservation purposes or to foster proficiency in firearms; NOPE

    (II) At a target firearm shooting competition under the auspices of, or approved by, a state agency or a nonprofit organization; or UH UH

    (III) While hunting, fishing, target shooting, or trapping if: THE HOSPITAL STAFF USED SOME EQUIPMENT SIMILAR TO EQUIPMENT USED WHILE FISHING… BUT NO

    (A) The hunting, fishing, target shooting, or trapping is legal in all places where the unlicensed transferee possesses the firearm; and

    (B) The unlicensed transferee holds any license or permit that is required for such hunting, fishing, target shooting, or trapping;

    (f) A transfer of a firearm that is made to facilitate the repair or maintenance of the firearm; except that this paragraph (f) does not apply unless all parties who possess the firearm as a result of the transfer may legally possess a firearm; I DON’T THINK ANYONE IN THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY INTENTIONALLY BROKE SARA’S GUN, BUT EVEN IF THEY DID, NO, THIS DOESN’T APPLY

    (g) Any temporary transfer that occurs while in the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm; THEY TOOK THE GUN FROM HER PRESENCE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY – SO THIS DOESN’T APPLY EITHER

    (h) A temporary transfer for not more than seventy-two hours. A person who transfers a firearm pursuant to this paragraph (h) may be jointly and severally liable for damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent unlawful use of the firearm; or THIS HAPPENED MARCH 28TH AND HERE IT IS, ALREADY MID-MAY.  WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?  OH – NO, THIS STILL DOESN’T APPLY

    (i) A transfer of a firearm from a person serving in the armed forces of the United States who will be deployed outside of the United States within the next thirty days to any immediate family member, which is limited to a spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, first cousin, aunt, and uncle of the person.  NOPE

Skipping to Section 9 of the law, we get this nugget:

  • “(9) (a) A person who violates a provision of this section commits a class 1 misdemeanor and shall be punished in accordance with section 18-1.3-501. The person shall also be prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years, beginning on the date of his or her conviction.”

So the Fort Collins Police Department took possession of Sara’s gun without first performing a background check, a crime, and then began some interesting lines of questioning.  They told Sara that they were just temporarily keeping her gun “for safe keeping” but then started asking her questions about her medical history, prescription medications, illegal drug use, anything they could possibly ask about.

As of this writing, the police still have her gun even though she has done nothing wrong.  The police have been telling her that since they don’t have a Federal Firearms Licensee on their staff, that they have no one who can perform the background check in accordance with the law.  But a friend of Sara’s, a police officer himself, happens to be a FFL gun dealer – and volunteered to take possession of the firearm (which would also be a crime), perform the background check on her from her own house, then if she passes the background check, he would then transfer the gun back to her.

How insane is this entire thing??

It’s time to start actually reading these laws.  It’s time to find out about the people you vote for.  It’s time to start doing your homework.  Because if you continue the status quo, we get laws like this one.

Here’s to hoping that common sense does indeed prevail and that Sara Warren does eventually get her gun back.  Oh, and whatcha say we get rid of this insane law?

Carry on, Colorado!

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One comment on “The Sara Warren Story

  1. Dave Jiles says:

    I know that we civilians never face any danger from the same criminals that Law Enforcement officers do. But just suppose that Miss Sara actually had occasion to really need her weapon to avoid becoming a chalk outline, while the local PD plays politics with her life. Who goes to jail for that?

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