Colorado is considered to be a ‘shall-issue’ state. And for the most part it is. If a rocky mountain resident is law-abiding, passes a background check, and completes a firearms training course, he/she will most likely be rewarded a concealed carry permit.
All that said, there is a clause within the state’s Concealed Handgun Permit Information packet that states top ranking law enforcement officers have the right to deny an individual a CCW permit:
Regardless of whether an applicant meets the criteria in the previous section, if the Sheriff has a reasonable belief that documented previous behavior by the applicant makes it likely the applicant will present a danger to self or others if the applicant receives a permit to carry a concealed handgun, the Sheriff may deny the permit.
This clause, this last contingency in the Colorado CCW process, was arguably the main reason why the Senate committee rejected a bill last month that would have allowed law-abiding gun owners in the Centennial State to carry concealed firearms without a permit (known as “unrestricted” or “Constitutional” concealed carry).
The Senate committee rejected the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Democrats voting against it. They argued that by removing this oversight contingency it would make it easier for criminals and the mentally ill to carry firearms in public.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle backed that argument. He said that every year he denies CCW permit requests from people who are mentally ill, suicidal, or have substance abuse problems.
“These are people who otherwise are legally able to carry a firearm, and under this bill could carry a concealed firearm. These are people who are sometimes psychotic,” he said.
(This begs an obvious question, what are these ‘psychotic’ people doing with guns in the first place? Presumably, if they’re applying for a CCW permit, they already own a firearm. Moreover, if they really are psychotic, are they going to obey the law?)
But Republicans countered by saying that the bill would improve public safety. They argued that if the bill were to pass, individuals would have an easier time defending themselves, as they wouldn’t need to go through the time-consuming rigmarole associated with CCW issuance.
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Tim Neville, told local reporters that sometimes people have to wait months before they obtain a CCW permit.
“I think one of the key concerns that we have on the Second Amendment side is the actual ability of people to protect themselves. That’s what this legislation is all about,” he said in an interview.
Currently, there are four states with an unrestricted CCW status, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont.
“What they’re finding is they’re not having blood in the streets, and chaos and anarchy, and everybody going cowboy,” Rob McNealy, speaking in support of the legislation and in reference to those Constitutional-carry states, told the Denver Post.
But despite all the arguments for the bill, Democrats refused to budge. Sen. Bob Bacon, a Democratic committee member, rejected the measure in part because it would also allow gun owners to carry concealed on college campuses. He voiced skepticism about the idea that gun owners are law-abiding.
“For me, law-abiding citizen is not a permanent condition,” he told the Denver Post. “All of us, on certain occasions, can snap,” he added.
There is another near-identical bill calling for Colorado to transition to an unrestricted CCW state in the Republican-controlled House. It’ll be interesting to see how that twin bill fairs. We’ll keep you posted.
Also, it’s the second year in a row that a proposal for unrestricted concealed carry has failed in Colorado.