State panel nixes permits for concealed firearms

DENVER—Coloradans don’t need a permit to carry a handgun openly, but as soon as they put a jacket on covering it up, they do.

That makes no sense to freshman Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, who got Republicans and Democrats alike on the House Judiciary Committee to approve his measure that effectively does away with the state’s concealed-weapons-permit rules.

“I call it the coat tax,” Holbert told the committee. “In most places in Colorado, I can get out of my car and carry open in Colorado. But if I put my coat on and cover up my gun, I need to pay this $152.50 (concealed-permit fee). I find that somewhat offensive.”

Under Holbert’s bill, gun owners still could get concealed-carry permits, but it wouldn’t be required. The only time they might still want to do so is if they find themselves in certain areas of the state that have gun bans.

Holbert’s bill is aimed at recent controversies in some Colorado universities that have approved gun bans.

Despite its controversial nature, the bill passed on an 8–3 vote, with two Democrats voting in favor.

Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, wasn’t one of them.

“Your bill says if you can open carry, you can conceal carry, and I don’t think the two are equivalent,” she said. “I think it’s a dangerous situation when people are walking around with concealed weapons and nobody knows who they are. I think it’s a reasonable thing to do in a civilized society for people to have a permit.”

The Colorado Association of Police Chiefs also spoke out against the measure, saying it’s helpful to law enforcement to know who has concealed weapons.

Ann Marie Jensen, a lobbyist for the association, acknowledged that a statewide database that is supposed to track who has concealed weapons is incomplete because state law doesn’t require sheriffs who issue concealed-carry permits to enter names into it.

Dudley Brown, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association, said he thinks it is funny that the police chiefs now are among those who oppose undoing the concealed-carry law because they were against the law that created concealed carry a decade ago.

“The arguments about this bill are largely the same arguments we had about the shall-issue concealed carry,” Brown said. “It was the same people saying, ‘Gosh, all these bad things are going to happen.’ They didn’t. In fact, the chiefs of police opposed that bill. They came kicking and screaming to the table.”


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