Liberalize Concealed Carry

Liberalize Concealed Carry

by Ari Armstrong, January 22, 2002

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Liberalized concealed carry laws bring two main benefits. First, those in immediate danger of being attacked, such as women who are being stalked or threatened, can gain an effective means of self-defense. Second, regular citizens can prevent or deter many mass murders.

It is this second benefit that State Senator Ken Chlouber wishes to limit for Coloradans. He told the Rocky Mountain News January 17, "Today's law allows guns in kindergarten. The proposal that I'm making for [concealed carry] standards across the state prevents that."

True, today's concealed carry law allows some responsible adults to carry a concealed handgun to most locations. But the anti-gun lobby and its Republican apologists such as Chlouber do not want responsible citizens to protect children at schools. Instead, they promote policies that increase the risk of another Columbine-style murder spree. It is no coincidence that petty thugs who want to kill lots of people select targets where nobody is likely to be able to fight back.

True, the Colorado Constitution fails to protect the right to carry a concealed handgun:

The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.

We can appreciate the document's strong support of open carry and the general right of self-defense. Many gun laws now enforced in Colorado flagrantly violate the clear protections offered by the Constitution. The Constitution's exception of concealed carry is an unjustified aberration. Fortunately, Colorado's Constitution does not place an outright ban on concealed carry. Thus, the matter is left to the legislature. Just because the Constitution (of Colorado) fails to protect the right to carry tools concealed for self-defense, doesn't mean the legislature must also fail to do so. Ideally, the legislature would simply repeal all the laws pertaining to concealed carry, which would make the practice legal.

Of course, laws that restrict gun ownership generally would still apply to the concealed carry of guns. Felons legally prohibited from owning guns are thereby also legally prohibited from carrying guns concealed. (Of course, if a felon is intent on committing new crimes, neither existing laws nor new restrictions on concealed carry will stop him or her from carrying a concealed weapon.)

 

What's the significance of having the ability to carry a gun concealed as well as on the hip? If you're carrying a gun on your hip, and somebody decides to commit a violent crime nearby, you will likely be the first target. When even a small percentage of the population carries concealed handguns, criminals never know which person might be able to shoot them, a fact which deters violent crime generally. In addition, it's difficult to wear a gun on the hip without ever concealing it. If you put on a jacket that covers the gun, you're now in questionable legal standing. Such a situation virtually ensures abuse by those in authority. Another consideration is practicality. Women tend to wear professional clothing that doesn't easily accommodate a gun. For instance, some women rarely wear belts that would support a holster and side-arm. However, women do tend to carry small bags that make it convenient to carry a tool for self-defense.

Both Bill Owens and Ken Chlouber have said they want a new concealed carry bill in order to further restrict the permit system now in place. Owens' spokesperson Dan Hopkins reminded the News that today's system "even allow[s] authorities to issue permits for people living outside their own jurisdictions."

Chlouber ads, "Today's law says any sheriff or chief of police may issue a permit to carry weapons concealed... They can issue those permits to anybody anywhere anytime at no charge with no investigation and no restrictions... A sheriff can walk outside his office... and start handing them out like popcorn."

I do not know of an example anywhere in Colorado that lives up to Chlouber's claims. However, his comments are still revealing. He assumes concealed carry is a privilege, not a right. He assumes self-defense should be restricted and fined and limited to PC zones.

But don't we have to compromise? That's what the NRA keeps telling us. Republicans have gotten so good at compromising away our right of self-defense that they now compromise even when it's of no conceivable value. Like Pavlov's dog, they have been conditioned to an automated response even when the benefits never arrive.

But political compromise -- which means we get something good but not as good as what we ultimately want -- can never justify selling out our principles. Chlouber's main error is not that he's running a bad bill, but that he has adopted the language of the anti-gun lobby in an attempt to justify his bill. That's a recipe for failure. Republicans seem scarcely able to look past the ends of their noses. It is only a matter of time before the anti-gun lobby quotes Chlouber in an attempt to justify more severe restrictions on general gun sales. "We don't want gun sellers handing out guns like popcorn, do we?"

Indeed, already it is difficult to tell the difference between the rhetoric of John Head, co-president of Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, and Republican Ken Chlouber. Head told the News, "If [Chlouber's] law is passed, a Seven-Eleven clerk would have more discretion when selling cigarettes than a sheriff would have when issuing a concealed handgun permit."

It is true that Head's statement is even worse than Chlouber's. Head is intentionally misleading, because, while sheriffs would have little discretion in issuing permits, they would be forced by law to issue permits with severe restrictions. Of course, these restrictions would be much more severe than those that apply to the purchase of cigarettes. But the truth has never been any great obstacle to John Head's ambitions.

It is telling that Head draws an analogy between the "discretion" open to a private business person in doing business and the "discretion" of the authorities in doling out our rights. In a market, we are free to determine the conditions under which we sell goods or services. Head suggests that our rights are goods owned by politicians that we have to buy back, if they'll let us. Perhaps John Head's intellectual great-great grandson will argue that book permits should also be subject to the "discretion" of the authorities.

I am not arguing that Ken Chlouber has fallen to the same level as John Head. It is clear, however, that Chlouber has sacrificed principles in order to appease the John Heads and Bill Owenses of the world. It is this sort of compromise, a compromise of principle, that Ayn Rand rightly condemns: "In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."

Fortunately, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has pointed out the errors of Chlouber's bill. RMGO has also begun to promote a considerably better bill. For more information, please see [updated RMGO page].

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

SB60: Concealed carry – and gun control, all in one package

Senate Bill 60 by Ken Chlouber
Concealed carry reform – and gun control, all in one package

Jan. 29, 2002 - Though the media is touting Senate Bill 60 as a “concealed carry” bill, this legislation has serious flaws if you actually believe in freedom.  In almost every area of concern, SB60 moves Colorado concealed carry law backward, not forward.  For those currently with concealed carry permits, it is even worse.

Most of SB60’s adherents suggest this bill is “a step forward” and they are right: it is a firm step toward gun control.  Senate sponsor Ken Chlouber (R-Leadville) confirms this when he attempts to sell this bill to the public as a method to stop renegade sheriffs from issuing permits so widely.

Colorado’s law is not entirely bad – a few simple changes, as opposed to a 26-page behemoth bill like SB60, will fix the issuing problem quickly.   Colorado shouldn’t pass a bill if it is this laden with problems.

Below are the main concerns with SB60:

  • 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, college, or university grounds.  In fact, the former President of CSSA has said "I also would not sign on to a bill which allowed every Tom, Dick and Harry (who has a concealed carry permit) to bring a weapon onto school grounds…" though permit holders have that right now.  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.  And CSU students shouldn’t leave in fear because state law bars permitted students from self-defense while on campus.
  • Fingerprint gathering – Though most sheriffs will admit that few – if any – applicants are ever denied based on information gathered through fingerprints, SB60 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 SB60 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.
  • 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.  SB60 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 SB60 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)

  • 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.
  • 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.

Owens concealed carry bill a step backward

Senate Bill 60 by Ken Chlouber
Concealed carry reform – and gun control, all in one package

Jan. 29, 2002 - Though the media is touting Senate Bill 60 as a “concealed carry” bill, this legislation has serious flaws if you actually believe in freedom.  In almost every area of concern, SB60 moves Colorado concealed carry law backward, not forward.  For those currently with concealed carry permits, it is even worse.

Most of SB60’s adherents suggest this bill is “a step forward” and they are right: it is a firm step toward gun control.  Senate sponsor Ken Chlouber (R-Leadville) confirms this when he attempts to sell this bill to the public as a method to stop renegade sheriffs from issuing permits so widely.

Colorado’s law is not entirely bad – a few simple changes, as opposed to a 26-page behemoth bill like SB60, will fix the issuing problem quickly.   Colorado shouldn’t pass a bill if it is this laden with problems.

Below are the main concerns with SB60:

  • 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, college, or university grounds.  In fact, the former President of CSSA has said "I also would not sign on to a bill which allowed every Tom, Dick and Harry (who has a concealed carry permit) to bring a weapon onto school grounds…" though permit holders have that right now.  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.  And CSU students shouldn’t leave in fear because state law bars permitted students from self-defense while on campus.
  • Fingerprint gathering – Though most sheriffs will admit that few – if any – applicants are ever denied based on information gathered through fingerprints, SB60 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 SB60 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.
  • 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.  SB60 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 SB60 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)

  • 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.
  • 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.

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