What’s concealed in latest gun legislation
In the decade since Colorado adopted a statewide law authorizing county sheriffs to issue concealed-weapons permits to those who meet certain requirements, the law has worked very well.
In 2010 alone, some 19,372 people applied for concealed-carry permits, according to county sheriffs’ numbers quoted in The Denver Post, and 18,088 of them were approved.
Clearly, law-abiding citizens in Colorado have little trouble obtaining permits. Most of the applications denied were rejected because the applicant had a criminal record.
House Bill 1205, which passed out of committee last Thursday, would change that. It technically requires anyone carrying a concealed handgun to meet the same legal requirements on criminal records as those who today obtain permits through their county sheriffs. But there would be no permit required, and consequently, no background check. Those 1,200 people denied permits in 2010 could simply start carrying hidden weapons.
No doubt, there are plenty of people illegally carrying concealed handguns already, but at least the permit system gives those with criminal records reason to think twice about it.
Permits provide police with an important tool. If they stop someone with a concealed gun, they can ask to see the person’s permit. If there is one, police know that person passed a criminal background check to obtain it. That benefits the permit holder, as well.
Also, obtaining a concealed-carry permit demonstrates a person is serious about legally and proficiently handling his or her weapon. It shows the individual has received training in the use of the gun and legal issues surrounding concealed weapons.
It indicates a commitment to carry and use a weapon responsibly, a commitment that’s not necessarily there if you simply tuck a handgun in your pants.
One claim by supporters of HB 1205 is ridiculous. They say current law essentially is “a coat tax” that charges gun owners a fee if they want to cover their weapon with a coat, but lets them carry openly in much of the state without paying for a permit. But there are key differences. If you have a concealed weapon, you are intentionally hiding it from your fellow citizens, who ought to have some reason to believe your intentions are law-abiding. Also, you can take it many places that you couldn’t openly carry a gun.
HB 1205 creates an unnecessary and dangerous change to Colorado law. It should be shot down.