New “Concealed Carry Compromise” a step backward
April 1, 2002 - The newspapers have been hailing a deal cut in the backrooms of the capitol, but few have reported that this “compromise” is actually a step backward for Colorado gun rights.
Much like Senate Bill 60 (which died in a Senate committee earlier this session), HB1410 by Democrat Rep. Louis Tochtrop and GOP Sen. Ken Chlouber has all of the components demanded by anti-gunners, and virtually nothing to offer the gun rights community.
The bill has the following problems, with the potential for even more:
- Sheriff Discretion – This turns a “shall issue” bill back into “may.” If the majority of Colorado sheriffs used this discretion widely, there would be no need for a statewide bill. If sheriffs are mad at having no discretion in a concealed carry bill, they have only themselves to blame. Under this bill, sheriffs need show a “reasonable belief that documented previous behavior by the applicants makes it likely the applicant will present a danger to self or others…” Never mind the idea that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty – sheriffs will be able to deny a permit based on virtually anything, which is the problem we face right now.
- Preemption – Though there has been much discussion on this issue, it is clear that Denver and many other anti-gun cities will create their own standards for issuing and new safezones where permit holders are not allowed to carry. HB1410 doesn’t have strong enough language to force these cities to uphold the standards of the bill, which will mean Colorado will again have a patchwork of laws that unfairly ban law-abiding citizens from the means to self protection.
- New criminal safezones -- where criminals know they are the only people armed and can operate without fear of armed citizens. The current state law is relatively clear (federal law adds courthouses, airports and post offices), but Chlouber's bill creates new "do not carry" zones: schools. How, then, are citizens expected to stop another Columbine incident? Don't tell us we have to wait for Sheriff John Stone's keystone- cop antics: Colorado should continue to allow citizens the right to self-defense when picking up their children from school.
- Fingerprint gathering – Though most sheriffs will admit that few – if any – applicants are ever denied based on information gathered through fingerprints, HB1410 makes it a requirement. Currently, some Colorado Sheriff departments gather the fingerprints but do not wait for the results from the FBI – they know this search is unlikely to turn up any new information. And what happens to those prints once the investigation is complete? Though CBI is directed to destroy them, the FBI is free to add them to their growing database of information on citizens. Citizens who want to carry concealed aren’t applying for the secret service: fingerprints aren’t needed, and only increase the complexity of the process.
- 3 month delay – Giving sheriffs 90 days to issue the permit isn’t much comfort to citizens who need protection now. Though HB1410 does allow for “emergency permits,” the process is daunting. Fearful women shouldn’t be required to navigate the murky waters of this process when they only wish to protect themselves.
- Government-mandated training – We don't require a "political test" before citizens are allowed to practice their First Amendment rights, so why should we accept it for our Second Amendment rights? Citizens can already purchase firearms without training, which is as it should be. Leaving government out of this equation (at least on the training end of things) and letting private associations foster increased and better safety training has drastically decreased the number of firearms death in America – while the number of citizens and firearms has increased. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows government mandates – allowing citizens to make rational choices leaves the decision where it belongs: at an individual level. RMGO urges anyone who thinks they will ever have contact with a firearm to obtain adequate, privately offered safety training, but government mandating that training will turn it into a bureaucratic rubber stamp process. This is likely a part of the bill because the NRA makes money at training firearms trainers. Previous concealed carry bills have had hunter safety training as the base level – this bill goes even further down the road to requiring gun owners to go through extensive training before even OWNING a firearm.
- An early expiration of the permits already issued. A great number of citizens already have permits, and those permits shouldn't be tossed aside to satisfy the ambition of politicians. HB1410 makes all previously issued permits expire in July 2003.
- A statewide database of gun owners -- Decentralizing the list by letting Sheriffs maintain their own system would deny government yet another list of gun owners, but state capitol politicians have always tried to use concealed carry permits as a backdoor method to log and track those who carry, including requiring fingerprints. Though HB1410 directs sheriffs to maintain these lists, having CBI conduct “concealed carry permit” background checks will give CBI a list of the state’s permit holders, effectively creating a statewide database. This list is a perfect vehicle for cataloging all kinds of information about citizens, and isn’t needed to verify a permit’s authenticity. Will this database be linked to license plates, allowing the State Patrol pull you over and view the database, flagging your vehicle as “dangerous citizen onboard?”
- Jurisdiction only -- Since Stratton has started issuing to residents outside of their small town, the Sheriffs and Chiefs mafia are sure to ask for a provision stopping these renegades (it has come to our attention that Stratton has again ceased issuing permits). If they were doing their job, law enforcement in Stratton - which we understand to have a 2 year backlog for applicants - wouldn't need to issue permits to other Colorado residents.
Potential Problems (possible amendments)
- Safe Storage – Denver Democrat Sen. Ken Gordon has announced that any concealed carry bill should have unsafe storage requirements within the bill – and since Democrats control the Senate, he very well may get that amendment passed.
- Overt CBI database – Look for law enforcement to demand a realtime database of permit holders, centralized in the CBI office and accessible by officers at the flick of a switch. This would create a veritable gold mine for anti-gunners to exploit.
- Needs requirement – Listing a “need” to carry a concealed weapon has long been a favored method of law enforcement to deny permits.
- Firearms logging - Some sheriffs - such as Arapahoe County leftist Republican Sheriff Pat Sullivan, who makes Rosie O'Donnell look pro-gun -- require a list of the firearms you own, along with serial numbers.
- High fees - Law enforcement always decry the cost of these background checks and demand that any new permit system have exorbitant fees, but the actual cost of determining if an applicant is a felon is less than $10. Any permit system shouldn't turn into a money making scheme for your local sheriff. Though SB60 isn't expensive right now, it will be unless the sponsor resists the amendments that are sure to come.
- Additional Criminal Safezones – Too often, when bill sponsors believe they have a chance of passing their bill, they accept extremely anti-gun amendments to their bills. The addition of criminal safezones in all government buildings and property (sidewalks, roads, city parks), sporting events, and other expansions to the current law will make a patchwork of zones where law-abiding citizens are defenseless and criminals are free to operate.
- Title – Since Colorado legislative rules require amendments to fit under the title of any bill, legislation with vague or broad titles are extremely dangerous. SB60 is title “Concerning Permits to Carry Concealed Handguns” which could be amended to shut down the sheriffs who issue now. Additionally, amendments from either side of the aisle can gut the existing law. Gun owners who expect leadership of either party to simply stop the passage of gun control laws need look no further than the 2000 Legislative session to see the folly of that trust.
More on this bill later as things develop, but HB1410 must be fixed or killed.