Wright: Concealed carry permits are burden to citizens
DENVER — Colorado residents shouldn’t be required to obtain a permit in order to carry their concealed handguns, two state lawmakers told a House committee Thursday.
The measure, HB1041 introduced by Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, would do away with the state’s required permit, mirroring what a handful of other states have done.
But because of this week’s snowstorm, some members of the House Judiciary Committee were forced to leave the Capitol. As a result, no vote was taken Thursday.
That will happen on a later day, said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village.
The measure, which would have cost the state about $314,000 in revenue but eliminated three state jobs, would have allowed anyone to conceal their weapons except in places where firearms already are banned, such as public buildings and school grounds.
Under current law, gun owners who want to carry a concealed weapon must obtain a permit from the sheriff’s office in the county in which they live. The permit costs about $52.50, but it also requires the concealed-carry applicant to have a criminal history background check, a fingerprint check, pay an administrative fee and pay for and attend a certification course to show that they received the needed training on handling firearms.
The measure also wouldn’t do away with the concealed-carry permit system in case someone needs one to carry a weapon out of state. All other states that permit the practice honor concealed-carry, but only with a state permit.
Only five states — Wyoming, Arizona, Arkansas, Alaska and Vermont — don’t require permits.
Wright, who carried the bill along with Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, said the permits shouldn’t be needed because everyone has a constitutional right to own and carry firearms already.
A concealed-carry permit system is an unnecessary burden on that right, they said.
“This is in essence allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun without being subjected to criminal laws,” Wright said. “Now let me tell you what this bill does not do. This bill does not authorize the carrying of concealed handguns by felons, the mentally ill, juveniles or anyone otherwise prohibited from possessing handguns under state or federal law.”
Opponents, however, said there’s a big difference between having the right to own weapons and concealing it from public view.
The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police agreed, saying requiring a permit helps protect the public from people who shouldn’t be carrying weapons.
Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson, first vice president of the association, said it also puts police officers in unnecessary danger. The permit system helps them to know which suspects might be armed.
“These kinds of bills in my opinion should scare you,” Jackson said. “They’re presented in the vein of public safety as a mechanism sometimes to stir emotion. That’s not what we should drive public policy with.”