2024 Leg Session, Featured, Gold Dome, Local Gun Rights, Mike Krause, Right To Arms, Uncategorized

Concealed carry keeps growing in Colorado; over twenty-five thousand new permits in 2023

DENVER– While majority Democrats in the state legislature push for new restrictions on the lawful carrying of concealed handguns, new data shows 25,218 Colorado adults subjected themselves to the scrutiny already required to become new concealed handgun permit (CHP) holders in 2023, while another 36,291 renewed existing permits.  That’s according to a County Sheriffs of Colorado annual report, published earlier this month.

While that number trails a permitting surge during Covid lock-downs and rioting related to the police killing of George Floyd (over 37,000 in 2020 and more than 41,000 in 2021), it’s still larger than the 23,250 permits issued in pre-pandemic 2019.  In the five-year period from 2019-2023, just over 155,000 Coloradans obtained new permits, while just under 143,000 existing permits were renewed (a Colorado CHP is valid for five years).

The Crime Prevention Research Center in 2023 estimated that just over 16 percent of the Colorado population 21 or older holds a carry permit.

In Colorado, which is what is known as a ‘shall issue’ state, permit applicants must pass both a criminal background check and a firearms training class by a certified instructor, and it must be taken in person. Permits are usually issued by the individual elected county sheriffs, though in Denver it’s the through the police department, and depending on where you live the process could be completed in a few weeks to several months.

Sheriffs are allowed some leeway for denials or revocations if they believe the applicant is a danger to themselves or others. For example, in Weld County, where just over 5000 permits were either issued or renewed in 2023, 16 applicants were denied for what the report calls ‘discretionary’ reasons. Other reasons for denial include an arrest record, residency issues, restraining orders, and mental illness or addiction.  Of the more than 64,000 permits either issued or renewed, a modest 395 applicants were denied statewide.

The exceptionally law-abiding

David Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute* and adjunct professor of advanced constitutional law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, notes that concealed handgun permit holders are among Colorado’s most law-abiding citizens.

“Concealed carry is, by its nature, virtually impossible to detect, unless a person walks through a metal detector or is frisked by the police. Obtaining a concealed carry permit requires hundreds of dollars in fees and expenses, including for training, as well as the post-training hours necessary to go through the permitting process,” Kopel said.  The only people who bother to go through the onerous process are people who are so concerned about legal compliance that they spend significant resources just to obtain a card from the government allowing them to legally do what they could have done anyway for free, and with very low risk of being caught.”

In 2022, Kopel presented data to the Denver City Council showing that among Colorado’s 21 and over adult population, a CHP holder is “about 39 times less likely to be arrested than an adult without one.”

Legislation targets concealed carry

Despite this, majority Democrats in the Colorado legislature have introduced bills aimed at making the applications process more difficult and expensive, as well as severely restricting where concealed handguns can be lawfully carried.

House Bill 24-1174 significantly expands the classroom training requirements, to include a live-fire exercise and a written exam, with instructors “verified” by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.  The bill also requires a “refresher” class for the renewal of a permit. Nowhere does the bill cite evidence of problems arising from the current requirements, but does require an appropriation of over $364,000 to the Department of Public Safety to implement the new mandates.

The bill is scheduled for  hearing in the House Finance Committee at 1:30 on Moncay, March 4 in House Committe Room 0112 in the basement of the Capitol.

Senate Bill 24-131 “prohibits a person from carrying a firearm, both openly and concealed” in numerous new places throughout the state, which the bill designates as “sensitive spaces,” to include:

  • A public park or playground.
  • A recreation facility or community center that is open to the public and is owned, operated or managed by a local government.
  • Property open to the public while a public gathering, assembly or special event is being conducted, which includes demonstrations, marches, rallies, vigils, protests, and picket lines, as well as the sidewalk or streets adjacent to the gathering.
  • A public or private hospital, nursing home, clinic, medical office, urgent care facility or other place at which medical or healthcare services are being provided.
  • A mental health or substance abuse facility.
  • Any stadium that is host to professional, collegiate, high school, amateur or student sporting events.
  • Any amusement parks, aquariums, carnivals, circuses, fairs, museums, water parks, or zoos
  • A courthouse and other buildings used for court proceedings.
  • In a building or real property owned, leased, or operated by the state or a local government or on the adjacent grounds.
  • At a location where a state or local government meeting occurs.
  • Correctional facilities.
  • A public library.
  • A shelter operated by the state or a local government or charitable organization that serves homeless people.
  • Daycare centers and preschools.
  • The campus of any public or private community college, college or university.

A similar law passed in California has been temporarily halted by by a federal judge, who ruled the overly-broad definition of  “sensitive spaces” violates the Second Amendment.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 13 at 1:30 in the Old Supreme Court Chambers.

* Independence Institute is the publisher of Complete Colorado.


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