Woman who did nothing wrong has gun confiscated, long delay getting it back

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — There’s an unusual gun battle playing out in communities across Colorado. A Loveland woman whose gun was taken after a traffic crash in Fort Collins has been waiting for two months to have the gun returned.

The delay is related to a new gun law that has to do with the transfer of a firearm. It turns out, even the police cannot return a gun to its owner without approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation after a background check requested by a licensed gun dealer.

Sara Warren knows all about the law now. She cleans houses for extra cash and carries a gun for safety. She hasn’t seen her Ruger SR9 handgun since March 26, 2014. “It’s been very, very frustrating,” she said.

She was on her way to Fort Collins for a job bid, but never made it to the house. She was in a car wreck that sent her to Poudre Valley Hospital. That’s where a report says a paramedic gave her purse and firearm to security at PVH.

Fort Collins police interviewed Warren and took her gun pending a toxicology report. On April 15, her firearm was authorized for release. Since then, she’s been waiting. “I have missed out on work,” she said. “I’ve been calling the police station every now and then, asking if they’ve figured out a way to give it back to me.”

Fort Collins Police issued this statement: “Fort Collins Police Services has instituted temporary measures and is working to find a permanent solution in order to comply with the law.”

That law now requires a background check by a licensed gun dealer for any firearm transfer. Fort Collins Police plans to do Warren’s transfer on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. That is two months after her weapon was first seized.

“This law was passed last July. They should have had this figured out by now,” Warren said.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said this is why he and more than four dozen other Colorado Sheriffs are suing the state over the 2013 gun control laws. “What happened to Sara is exactly the danger in the way this thing is written,” he said.

But, Sheriff Smith says Larimer County hasn’t had this problem returning property because they’re going directly through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. “They told us, send the information to us and we will conduct the NICS check.”

As for why it took Fort Collins police so long to return Warren’s gun to her, the department wouldn’t say, only that it was advised by the Fort Collins City Attorney on how to enforce this new law. The City Attorney said its advice is confidential.