HB1242 dies in Sen. Judiciary, HB1410 to Sen. Agriculture and Appropriations


April 25, 2002 - While the Senate Judiciary killed HB1242, the best concealed carry bill ever offered, the House passed the “Step Backward” concealed carry bill, HB1410.   Senate President Stan Matsunaka (D-Loveland) assigned HB1410 to the Agriculture committee, as well as the Senate Appropriations committee.

Expect HB1410 to be heard by the Agriculture committee on Tuesday, April 30th.

HB1410 a "Step Backward" for Concealed Carry

Many of you may have received mail lauding or read news reports (written by liberals, of course) attacking a concealed carry bill in the legislature. Unfortunately, neither of these perspectives gives you an accurate read on the legislation that just may pass this session.

House Bill 1410, being touted as the "compromise" bill, should be called the Gun Owner Surrender Act. Sponsored by Democrat Rep. Louis Tochtrop and Sen. Ken Chlouber, it is much like the concealed carry bills offered by the middle-of-the-road crowd in the past, with a few new twists: the training requirements are far-and-above the most onerous ever offered in the state legislature, and the permit it creates won't be valid in some areas of Colorado where current permits are valid.

Though gun rights hero State Rep. Dave Schultheis (R - Colo. Springs) is carrying a Vermont-style concealed carry bill that is greatly superior, a handful of anti-gun Democrat legislators have decided to support HB1410, making it more likely to pass.

Why would they do that? First of all, Senate President Stan Matsunaka (D - Loveland) is running for Congress against gun rights stalwart Sen. Marilyn Musgrave. Matsunaka, who has voted against concealed carry in the past, has decided to change his stripes in a blatant attempt at pandering to gun owners. The problem is that he is supporting a bill that has the support of the NRA but the opposition of the rank-and-file gun owners.

If you think this is at least a step forward, consider this: a large number of county sheriffs are now issuing permits in Colorado and rumor is circulating about a number of sheriffs who may be willing to issue statewide. Why, then, should gun rights activists settle for a bill that is a step backward?

House Bill 1410 has a number of fatal flaws. First and foremost is that the bill has very weak preemption language. This means that Denver, or another anti-gun city, may simply refuse to follow the directives of the bill while claiming "homerule" status. And, should HB1410 become law, cities like Denver will most certainly create criminal safezones, where even permit holders are not allowed to carry. What kind of areas would they designate "concealed carry free?" Virtually all city owned property, like sidewalks, roads, city buildings and parks would become areas where criminals can carry, but the permit holder will be forced to leave your weapon in the car or at home. This means that HB1410 may not solve one of the biggest problems in our state: Denver residents can't get permits, and their city is the most dangerous area in our state.

Since HB1410 stops a sheriff or chief from issuing permits outside of his county or city, this bill may just be the death of any chance for Denver residents to carry concealed.

HB1410 also creates a new criminal safezone of its own: public K-12 schools will be an even more dangerous zone, since law-abiding citizens are not allowed the tools of self defense. In the case of another Columbine, adults would have to wait for law enforcement to arrive before protecting students - doesn't that make you feel safe?

Training requirements are also a fatal flaw of HB1410. The House Criminal Justice Committee committed a criminal act itself when it made the already substantial training requirements even more difficult. To get a permit, you must show proof of taking a class - from an NRA certified instructor, of course - within the last 5 years. Veterans must likewise show pistol qualifications within the last 5 years.

That means that you may be a Vietnam veteran, with multiple tours in combat, but government bureaucrats don't trust you to carry concealed without a recent, approved class. Because of the added cost for applicants, this will mean less people will apply for a permit. The only upside is for the NRA: they will now be the government-sanctioned trainers for concealed carry.

You might even have a permit right now, but not have taken a handgun-specific training class in the last 5 years. That means you’d still have to take an NRA handgun course to get a new permit under HB1410.

HB1410 also requires the logging of your fingerprints. A deputy sheriff who handles issuing concealed weapons permits said his department currently only takes fingerprints because the law requires it - the background check itself is more than sufficient to verify that the applicant is law-abiding. When you apply for a permit via HB1410, your fingerprints are run through an FBI computer - and kept in their system for good. It creates a useful list of gun owners, which is the reason gun prohibitionists seek to require fingerprints: it makes a perfect list for government to confiscate firearms.

As Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden testified in committee, this bill is a step backward. Unless HB1410's major flaws can be corrected, this will be Colorado's concealed carry law for quite some time, if not forever. Few states have ever cleaned up a bad concealed carry law, a prospect we do not want to face.

This bill also allows sheriffs to deny the permit based on information obtained from their department, or other information that is "documentable." But this gives the permit applicant no method to cross-examine his/her accusers, seomthing that should be reprehensible to all Americans. Gun owners should have learned our lesson when Colorado's Brady Registration check was changed to allow a denial based on arrest, not conviction. This discretion allows sheriffs, who are already abusing their discretion by not issuing permits widely, to treat permit applicants as guilty until proven innocent.

And for those who already have permits, HB1410 voids them. This is a disservice to those who have spent their time and money to get a permit, only to have that permit revoked.

Scariest of all is that Senate Democrats are threatening to add unsafe storage requirements onto HB1410. Given the history of those involved, who are absolutely desperate to pass anything at any cost as long as the title says "concealed carry", we simply can't rely on them to resist attempts at turning this bill into an even bigger vehicle for gun control.

What can you do about it? Call your State Senator at 303-866-2316 immediately and tell him or her to fix House Bill 1410, or to kill it.  We'd rather have the current law and take our chances that the next election brings us a more pro-gun State Senate than pass 1410.

Good CCW bill passes initial House Approval -- Bad CCW in Appropriations

April 15, 2002 - The House of Representatives gave initial approval to HB1242, the Vermont Style concealed carry bill, on second reading.  Third reading, where a recorded vote is taken, will not happen for at least a week.

Meanwhile, HB1410, which is the concealed carry bill that many believe is a step backward from current law, is scheduled in Appropriations committee.

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.

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