Death of concealed-carry bill won’t change much in Summit
SUMMIT COUNTY – A bill that would have created a statewide standard for issuing concealed weapon permits died in the state Senate Tuesday, but the process for issuing permits and the number issued in Summit County likely won’t change.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 5-5 on House Bill 1410, effectively killing it with a tie. The “shall-issue” proposal would have required county sheriffs to issue concealed-weapons permits to state residents age 21 or over who have completed handgun training and have not been convicted of crimes or shown to be habitual alcohol or drug users.
Under current law, sheriffs may use their discretion in issuing permits and can deny them for any reason. The result is counties that issue numerous permits, such as El Paso County – where more than 5,000 permit-holders reside – and counties where only a half-dozen are issued, such as Denver.
“It’s a little unfortunate,” said Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales. “I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about this legislation. People think issuing one gives a person a right to be a gunslinger, or that they’re suddenly immune to laws. But actually, a permit-holder is held to a higher standard.”
Morales said he’s issued about 150 concealed-weapon permits since 1995, and about 128 permits are still active. Permit-holders’ names are confidential, he said, but they include professionals, business owners, retirees and people who deal with large amounts of cash. “They’re the kind of folks you’d see at the Rotary Club,” Morales said.
To obtain a permit, citizens must complete a detailed application that poses questions about criminal history, weapons training and the purpose for seeking the permit. Morales said the questions on the application deter many people from requesting a permit because they know they won’t get it. He said he’s only denied two applications since he took office.
Morales said it’s a philosophical debate whether individuals should have the right to a higher level of self-defense, but statewide statistics show it’s a safe bet. He said Colorado’s statistics show that concealed weapon permit-holders do not add to crime and violence and that they make good decisions about protecting themselves and others.
“We have a good process here in Summit County,” Morales said. “And you have to trust your citizens.”
As one of the few rural shooting sports dealers in Colorado,Yankee Trader Pawn proprietor Felix Lesmerises fields questions from many gun aficionados . Lesmerises said a lot of customers have asked about the concealed-carry bill and he expected the issue to return to the Legislature next year.
“They ask questions, and we tell them it all depends on their sheriff,” Lesmerises said. “Personally, I have a permit in Boulder, but getting that requires a lot of finesse. In a rural county, the sheriff can hand them out to his buddies and it could be a little easier. There’s no uniformity, no training requirement and that’s the problem.”
Like Morales, Lesmerises said gun issues in government often are muddled by marketing tactics from interested parties. He added that until Colorado adopts a statewide standard, gun carriers who come from out of state will continue to run into problems. Colorado does not have reciprocity with other states when it comes to concealed-weapons permits because Colorado lacks a uniform statewide process for issuing them.
“This law would have taken care of that,” Lesmerises said.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or email@example.com.
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