How was Sol Pais able to buy a gun? Colorado Congress members ask DOJ for answers

Posted at 5:18 PM, Jul 24, 2019

DENVER – Colorado Congress members have asked the Department of Justice to investigate how the Florida woman who threatened Denver-area schools in April was able to buy a shotgun and how the FBI reviews background checks for gun purchases.

Representatives Joe Neguse (D-Boulder), Jason Crow (D-Aurora), Diana DeGette (D-Denver), Ed Perlmutter (D-Lakewood) and Scott Tipton (R-Pueblo) sent a letter to to Inspector General Michael Horowitz last week, focusing on why Sol Pais' purchase at a Colorado store wasn't blocked by a background check.

Pais, 18, who was "infatuated" with the Columbine High School shooting, flew to Colorado from her home in Florida in April and bought a shotgun and ammunition at a store in Littleton.

As authorities searched for Pais, schools across the Denver area shut down. Authorities then found Pais dead at the base of Mount Evans.

Colorado Gun Broker, the gun shop that sold Pais the weapon, said in a Facebook post in April that Pais passed a background check for the gun through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The letter from the Congress members to the DOJ centered on how the FBI audits "Point of Contact" background checks, in which the state, not the FBI, conducts the background check for a firearm purchase. Colorado is one of 13 states that handles background checks for all gun purchases.

The letter from the Congress members pointed to federal law, which says people can't buy a rifle or a shotgun outside of their home state unless they comply with the laws in both states.

Colorado allows people 18 and older to buy a long gun, the letter said, but Florida requires buyers to be at least 21. Under those conditions, Pais shouldn't have been able to buy the gun.

The Congress' members letter cited data from last year's Government Accountability Office report, which found 112,000 gun purchase denials on about 8.6 million background checks conducted by the FBI during fiscal year 2017. The "Point of Contact" background checks denied about 69,000 purchases, out of about 17 million background checks, the letter said.

"While there are a variety of potential explanations for the discrepancy, the difference between the two denial rates raises the possibility POC states are incorrectly approving a significant number of transfers, as appears to have been the case with the Florida woman in Colorado," the letter said.