Sheriff: Little gun-related crime in Summit County |

Sheriff: Little gun-related crime in Summit County

Caddie Nath
summit daily news
Summit Daily file photo

The massacre of 26 people at an elementary school in Connecticut earlier this month has renewed the debate over gun-control laws across the country and in Colorado, but in Summit County, authorities say firearms don’t tend to be a significant safety issue.

Summit County Sheriff John Minor said in his more than 20 years in law enforcement in the High Country, he can recall only seven homicides, and in only one of those cases did the killer use a firearm.

“We have a lot of firearms in Summit County,” said Minor, an ardent Second Amendment supporter. “But we don’t have issues with firearm-related crimes.”

Statewide, talk of stricter gun-control laws is causing a run on weapons, with thousands of requests for background checks pouring in from prospective gun buyers.

Though localized numbers are not available for Summit County – where the sheriff’s office issues roughly 100 concealed carry permits annually – local retailers say ammunition is back-ordered, while gun users in the community say they, too, are buying in bulk, unsure of what future changes in gun laws might bring.

“I’ve been stocking up on ammunition once a week,” Silverthorne resident Josh Morrison said. “Every time I go, it’s harder and harder to find what I’m looking for. I’m seeing them disappear and nothing else is coming on the shelves. People are definitely rushing to get what they can right now, before something changes.”

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation received close to 9,000 background-check requests the week before Christmas, stacking the queue for checks waiting to be processed up to an unprecedented 10,000.

The usually minutes-long process, required to purchase a gun, grew to hours in Colorado soon after a gunman opened fire on children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in mid-December.

Since the shooting, Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed halting gun sales to mentally ill individuals and three Colorado lawmakers called for stricter gun regulations including restricted access to “weapons of war,” such as assault rifles.

“I’m going to be moving beyond a moment of silence into taking a plan of action,” Aurora Democrat Rep. Rhonda Fields said at a news conference earlier this month.

But local gun users say stricter regulations aren’t the answer.

“I don’t think it would solve anything,” said Richard Hawkins, a user of the Summit County Shooting Range in Dillon. “It should be more about education and awareness.”

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.

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