Senate Bill 83 not a fix for Concealed Carry problem in Colorado

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001 -- Once again, the Colorado legislature is debating a so-called “Concealed Carry” bill.  And like previous years, the bill offered is a disaster.

Senate Bill 83 is likely to be heard by the Colorado Senate’s Judiciary Committee in the next few days, where it will be made even worse than its current form.  With or without amendments, this bill is a huge step backward for Coloradans, especially those who already have a permit.

SB83 creates a number of Criminal Safezones, where even permit holders could not carry.  Though the current law allows permit holders to carry in these areas, SB83 would strip citizens of the right to carry in these areas:

  • Schools (elementary, middle, junior or high school; public or private)

  • Government buildings (any building with any state or local government office) such as a mall (some have drivers license offices or other government departments housed inside)

  • Any high school, college, university or professional athletic event

  • Anyplace where alcohol is served (current state law allows permit holders to carry concealed but not be intoxicated)

If you live in El Paso, Larimer, or any number of counties that are issuing permits, this bill is your worst nightmare: it gets rid of your permit and stops you from carrying in areas where you can carry now.

Rather than start from a position of strength, SB83 begins as a bill with most of the worst possible aspects.  Indeed, it might be a shorter list for SB83 to delineate where citizens can carry concealed, as the list of Criminal Safezones – where thugs and murderers like Klebold and Harris can operate with relative impunity – covers so many areas.

The bill also creates a new statewide database of permit holders administered by our friends at the CBI – you know, the organization responsible for the barrage of denials and long waits on Brady checks.

CBI has been trying to consolidate power for years: this bill gives Colorado’s version of the FBI a new list of gun owners to go along with their Brady purchasers list.  If you think that can’t happen here, ask an Australian, Canadian or English citizen: databases of gun owners are what government used to confiscate firearms in their countries.  We believe that to deny law enforcement these lists now will provide an almost insurmountable obstacle to gun-confiscators in the future.

Why not simply put the issuing department’s phone number on the permit so law enforcement can verify its validity?  Instead, we consolidate yet another piece of information in a State-level law enforcement bureaucrats’ hands.

The bill also incorporates into Colorado law the federal Lautenburg Gun Ban, where citizens convicted of so-called domestic violence charges – such as a wife yelling at her husband or a parent spanking a child – cannot obtain the permit.

Besides charging far more than is necessary to do the background checks for the permits – this bill allows sheriffs to charge more than $100 for the permit and fingerprints – it also sets up the NRA as the only private organization allowed to certify the government-mandated training required in the bill.  It should be little wonder why the NRA pushes  training requirements: they line the pockets of the NRA with money coerced from citizens who may or may not need the training to protect themselves but are required by law to get a piece of paper.  This also gives credence to the notion that the NRA is setting itself up to be the government-sanctioned rationing agency for our gun rights, a claim long held by many who are closely associated with NRA activities.

RMGO has never been opposed to voluntary training – in fact, we have offered to set up a voluntary program for CCW applicants.  Are citizens allowed to voice their political opinions without government-mandated training?  Why should exercising our Second Amendment rights be any different than our other God-given rights?

Finally, the bill gives sheriffs an “out.”  Sheriffs can deny permits to someone who they deem “presents a danger to himself or others,” which to many law enforcement means anyone not in their department.  This turns a “shall issue” bill back into a “may issue.

Chlouber, though often well-intentioned, is driven by “bill fever,” where politicians desperately want to pass bills regardless of the cost, a very common ailment of state legislators.  The bill is likely to get worse in committee, where Democrats hold a majority and can amend the bill into an even worse measure, all the time threatening to kill it without the amendments.  And you can be sure that any change for the worse is likely to be sold to gun owners as “what is needed to get a bill passed.”  Thanks, but we’ll take the current law rather than “solve” our problems with more gun control.

What you can do: Call these members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and urge them to defeat this sham of a concealed carry bill.  Let them know that we’d rather have the current law, which allows sheriffs to issue on their own terms, than create Criminal Safezones that leave citizens defenseless.

Be certain to call the Republican members, who might think they are doing the right thing by supporting a concealed carry bill; they need to know that this bill is not a solution to Colorado’s carrying concealed problems.

Chairman, Senator Ken Gordon (D – Denver)            303-866-4875
Vice Chair, Senator Doug Linkhart (D – Denver)      303-866-4861
Sen. Ken Arnold (R – Adams)                                    303-866-4876
Sen. Jim Dyer (R - Arapahoe)                                    303-866-4866
Sen. Rob Hernandez (D – Denver)                             303-866-4862
Sen. Mark Hillman (R - Burlington)                            303-866-6360
Sen. Sue Windels (D – Arvada)                                   303-866-4840

From outside the metro area, you can call toll free at 1-888-473-8136

Restrictive Carry Bill Invites Another Columbine

by Ari Armstrong, RMGO Research Director

The Colorado Senate will consider a bill (S01-083) that would create more "criminal safety zones," areas where law-abiding citizens are prevented from defending themselves and others with a firearm.

In particular, the bill states a "permit... does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun into... the real estate and all improvements erected thereon of any public or private elementary, middle, junior high or high school..."  

This means schools will remain the main target of deranged killers. At Columbine, the killers knew they would face at most one armed guard. That guard was assigned to Columbine because he was incompetent with a gun. If even a handful of anonymous responsible adults at the school had carried a concealed handgun, the killers would have hesitated to even enter the school. If they had gone ahead with their plans, the loss of life likely would have been much lower. In Mississippi and Pennsylvania, school shootings were stopped when armed adults intervened several minutes before police arrived.

Liberal concealed carry laws are the only types of gun laws proven to reduce mass public shootings and violent crime generally. Yale scholar John Lott found, "When different states passed right-to-carry laws... the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by a whopping 84 percent" (More Guns, Less Crime, 2nd Ed., page 196).

Currently, local law officials may issue permits at their discretion. The Senate bill under consideration would restrict the rights of current permit holders in Colorado. Thus, it would be a step in the wrong direction.

The creation of "criminal safety" zones is not the only problem with this year's bill, however. It would also require a fee of up to $100. "For each $10 increase in fees, the percentage of the population with permits falls by one half of one percentage point," Lott found, which corresponds to an increase in violent crime rates relative to no fee (178-180). Notably, fees especially harm the poor. Because the poorest areas are also often high crime areas, the ability to carry a concealed handgun is especially effective at reducing violent crime.

To obtain a permit, the applicant must take a mandated training class with "instructors or curriculum certified by the National Rifle Association or by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board." Of course every gun owner should train to use the firearm safely and effectively. The problem with mandated classes is that they add costs and time delays. Lott found that mandatory training does not increase the usefulness of concealed carry in reducing crime (86), though it does prevent some people from getting a permit and thus weaken the over-all benefits of concealed carry (176).

The bill does contain a provision for emergency permits: "[A] sheriff shall issue a temporary emergency permit to carry a concealed handgun to any person residing in a sheriff's jurisdiction who applies pursuant to this section and and who the sheriff has reason to believe may be in immediate danger." Unfortunately, this does little to protect a person in real danger. First, it's unlikely that a person would be able to quickly find the sheriff. Second, the phrase "reason to believe" is highly subjective and open to abuse.

In general, even though the bill is allegedly a "shall issue" law (rather than "may issue"), it gives sheriffs virtually unlimited discretion to deny permits. It states: "If the sheriff has a reasonable belief that documented previous behavior by the applicant will present a danger to self or others... the sheriff may deny the permit." The "documentation" is arbitrary, and again the phrase "reasonable belief" is subjective. Given the language, a sheriff could refuse practically anyone a permit. Politics is sure to play in many sheriffs' decisions. In addition, some non-felonies, such as decades-old drunk driving records, disqualify the applicant.

Another problem with the current bill is that it requires sheriffs to register concealed carry permit holders with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and, by extension, the national government. The explicit goal of the anti-gun lobby is to ban all semiautomatics and all handguns.

Several countries have already banned guns, such as England, where gun crime, burglary, and robbery are on the rise. Californians are learning right now that registered guns are at risk of confiscation.

If the bill is passed, it will probably come out looking even worse than it does now, especially with a Democrat-controlled Senate. If Colorado legislators were serious about reducing crime and saving lives, they would pass a real concealed carry law, one that simply repeals existing restrictions and allows lawful citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones.


Mauser gets his gun control, for now; 
House gets more pro-gun, Senate goes to Dems

Colorado voters gave a relatively mixed message in the November elections, proving once again that Colorado citizens won’t be pigeon-holed.

For gun owners, the message was equally ambiguous.  SAFE’s Amendment 22, which forces private sales at gun shows to undergo the Brady Registration check, passed by a 70% margin, proving that soft-pedaled gun control can win, even in Colorado.  Those of you who missed our comments to the media on election night should know we did everything we could to focus gun owners on the tasks ahead of us, which are daunting.

RMGO and GOA will file a lawsuit before Amendment 22 is enacted on March 31, 2001, challenging not just the amendment but Brady Registration checks in Colorado as a whole.  Colorado's Constitution reads “the right of no person to keep and bear arms.... shall be called in question.”  What do you call a background check, conducted by a dealer or a private person, at a sporting goods shop or a gun show, if not "calling in question?"  Expect to hear more on this as it is develops.

SAFE is now here to stay, and they are funded by an enormous machine.  Expect them to begin their crusade for other gun controls on a national and local level soon – probably trigger locks and the “private sale” loophole.

The Colorado Legislature

For the first time in 40 years, the Democrats are in control of the Colorado Senate.  Gun rights hero Jim Congrove lost his very tight race in northern Jefferson county, while Penn Pfiffner, a good vote but leaning toward apologist on our issues, lost handily.

Gun rights advocate Bruce Cairns of Aurora defeated his liberal Democrat opponent, despite his opponent’s blistering attacks on gun issues.  Conservative John Andrews won his race against Scott Evans, even though Handgun Control, Inc. attacked him mercilessly for his pro-freedom stance (see" for some of HCI’s nastiness).  Ken Arnold narrowly won in a race that lasted early into the morning.

The Senate GOP’s more liberal candidates failed by large margins: Fort Collins’ Steve Tool, Denver’s Dorothy Gotlieb, and Aurora’s Debbie Allen each lost by large margins, dispelling the myth that gun issues were the downfall of Republicans.

The Colorado House moved firmly to the right on gun issues with victories from real Americans Pam Rhodes (R-Thornton), Bill Crane (R-Arvada), Mark Chloer (R-Colo. Springs), Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) and Tim Fritz (R- Loveland).  Expect these new members to form a solid base in addition to newcomer Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs), gun rights diehards Mark Paschall, Joe Nunez, and Sean Mitchell, and the decent votes of Rob Fairbanks, Lauri Clapp, Don Lee and new House Speaker Doug Dean.

One very regrettable loss in the House: Scott McKay of  Lakewood lost in a surprise loss to Democrat Betty Boyd.   McKay’s seat overlaps with candidate Pfiffner’s senate seat, and results from both races were identical in percentage, suggesting bad feelings from Pfiffner’s divisive primary.  Republican (?) Senator Norma Anderson should shoulder some burden for the loss of both McKay and Pfiffner.

Some Conclusions

While gun issues weren’t the major factor, they certainly were a weapon favored by the Democrats.  But GOP loss of the Senate can only be attributed to the tide of Union money used to assail Republican Senate candidates.  In the last 6 weeks of the campaigns, Democrats used huge amounts of forced union dues to attack pro-gun conservatives on virtually every issue, especially gun rights.  If you pay union dues, you helped defeat your friends.

What vote did Democrats use against Republicans?  Dem. Sens. Matsunaka, Feeley, and Perlmutter forced a slew of gun votes on a “Safe Schools” bill last year, all designed to use in the election.

Senate conservatives warned GOP leadership about this very issue, but term-limited Sen. Ray Powers, who no one will mistake for a brain surgeon, told the Senate chairman to allow the amendments.  Ray Powers, more than anyone else, can be thanked for the Democrats’ coup in the Senate.   On the bright side, Powers is no longer in the Senate.

Liberal Republican pundits have claimed this Colorado election proves that Republicans must move to the middle to be elected:  nothing could be further from the truth.

Republican Senate candidates who ran to the left (Tool, Allen, Gotlieb) lost by large margins, compared to the closer elections of noted conservatives Congrove and Pfiffner.

Though the loss of Jim Congrove stings, the number of pro-gun Senators didn’t change when Bruce Cairns won in Aurora.   Democrats in charge could be a bonus for gun owners, if Democrats fight with Republicans over gun control plans.   However, expect a landslide of gun control coming from the left-lead Senate.

The House saw dramatic gains for pro-gun conservatives, despite Republicans losing a net of 2 seats (giving them a 38-27 majority).

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners PAC spent more than $50,000 in legislative races and in the battle against Amendment 22, setting a record for Colorado pro-gun organizations.  But with the Colorado Legislature in session in early January, our battle is far from over.

Our thanks go out to all of you who put in time, money and talent to fight the good fight.  Remember: we are serious people doing serious things, and we WILL be back.

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