Justice Department responds to congressional letter about 2019 shooter scare

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Washington, D.C.-, January 27, 2020 | comments

The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Justice has responded to a letter that five of Colorado’s U.S. representatives sent in July, saying that he will “anticipate” a departmental investigation into the federal firearm background check system.

“We anticipate continuing our oversight of it by initiating an audit of selected aspects of it,” Michael E. Horowitz wrote in a letter dated Jan. 8. He referred to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which determines if a potential gun buyer is eligible to complete the purchase.

Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crow and Ed Perlmutter, plus Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, contacted Horowitz after 18-year-old Florida resident Sol Pais flew to Colorado in April 2019 and successfully purchased a weapon. In her home state, Pais was ineligible to buy a gun due to her age.


Pais triggered a region-wide manhunt because of her infatuation with the Columbine High School mass shooting and its twentieth anniversary last year. Schools across the Front Range shut down, and authorities eventually found Pais dead at the base of Mount Evans.

The store that sold Pais the gun said that she passed the federal NICS check.

“What happened in April should never have happened,” said DeGette. “We need to know why our system failed and what needs to be done to ensure it never happens again.”


Horowitz was noncommittal to the timing of the NICS review, writing that it will begin “when we have completed the scoping statement and made available the appropriate staffing resources.”

That answer was not good enough for Neguse.

“I implore the Inspector General to provide Congress with a clear and expedited timeline for their audit of the Point of Contact system, and to provide answers on how this incident was able to occur,” he said in a statement.

Content originally published by Colorado Politics on January 27, 2020.
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