Concealed carry interest skyrocketing
Permit applications in 2013 might double 2012 number
People are so eager to get guns, they line up each morning to mine the best selection at Top Shot, 457 S. Fifth St.
Store owner Daniel Lente said while gun sales still are brisk after a record number of guns were sold in December, buyers increasingly are taking the next step and applying for concealed handgun permits.
“They want to do it before their rights are taken away,” Lente said, referring to the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. “They think their concealed-carry rights are going to be taken away.”
Indeed, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department is experiencing such a spike in concealed handgun permit applications that its records division will change its schedule to accommodate the increase.
In a typical month last year, the Sheriff’s Department received about 90 applications. In January, the department received a whopping 285 applications as of Thursday afternoon, with total monthly numbers still being tallied. Given that tally, the department could see 2,400 applications this year, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin.
“There’s been a steady increase after the New Year. We don’t have delusions about less coming in,” she said. “It’s difficult for our staff to keep up with the process. Our records people who process our applications have other duties as well. We physically cannot provide the same customer service that we used to.”
Benjamin said the Sheriff’s Department is reducing to three days a week the times it will accept concealed handgun permit applications. However, by having people apply for the permits only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, it should better allow the department’s one records employee who processes the applications to focus on preparing them.
The Sheriff’s Department is tasked with determining whether applicants receive the correct firearms training. They also must collect fingerprints and take photos of applicants. Applications then are forwarded to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for background checks. The Sheriff’s Department then issues concealed handgun permit cards to those who qualify. Permits are valid for five years.
Lente said he’s run full classes every Saturday and Sunday since November to keep up with the demand for residents to receive training to obtain their concealed handgun permits.
Wait times on background checks to buy guns is roughly a week or two. Turnaround times on getting a concealed handgun permit is about eight to 12 weeks, he said.
“There’s a huge demand,” he said. “I didn’t think it would take off as it did.”
Lente, like other instructors in the Grand Valley, offer firearms training for folks to get their concealed handgun permits. He said he often doesn’t tell people that they could receive that training in an online class, because the prospect of people not practicing in a live fire training makes him nervous.
“I like to make sure that everybody I give a concealed permit to at least knows how to fire a gun,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Department allows residents to receive certification in online classes, but that practice is highly discouraged, Benjamin said.
“Certainly people going through concealed handgun training absolutely would be remiss not to take a handgun class,” she said.
There are currently about 6,000 people in Mesa County with active concealed handgun permits. Anyone wanting to renew permits can do so up to 120 days before those permits expire. That would eliminate wait times for renewals, Benjamin said.
“Often, right now we are seeing people come in the day before or the day of expiration and their permit is lapsing for the 90 days while we process it,” Benjamin said.