Gun laws are complicated. That’s one thing for certain in the effort to figure out whether the young woman who caused fear and school cancellations Wednesday before her apparent suicide by gun, legally bought that weapon in Colorado.
Investigators say Sol Pais flew into Colorado Monday and ended up at a gun store in unincorporated Jefferson County where she purchased a shotgun. Wednesday afternoon, the owner of the Colorado Gun Broker store, said he believed she had purchased the weapon legally. Josh Rayburn wrote, “She did go through the full background check and was given a clearance by both NCIC and CBI … We had no reason to suspect she was a threat to either herself or anyone else.”
That background check is required for the purchase of a weapon under Colorado law. It’s called Instacheck and it usually takes only minutes. In Colorado, it is legal to buy a long gun, like the shotgun purchased by Pais, at the age of 18. There is also no requirement of residency to purchase a long gun in Colorado. That is different from a handgun. You have to be 21 to purchase a handgun — and for a handgun purchase, you have to show an ID showing Colorado residency. There is also no waiting period for weapons purchases in Colorado, what in some states in the past has been termed a cooling off period.
Then there’s federal law. Federal law stipulates that an out-of-state resident can only purchase a firearm if that purchase complies with laws in the state in which they are buying and the state on their ID. Pais was from the Miami area. That would mean she would have to meet requirements for purchasing a weapon under both Colorado and Florida law. Florida prohibits most sales of long guns to people under the age of 21 and Florida has a three-day waiting period – a law passed last year, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.