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.
A comment on this week's tragic events and the liberties assailed
by Dr. Sarah Thompson
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners joins with all Coloradans and all Americans in mourning the terrible tragedies that occurred yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the dead, the injured, and their families - and to our elected leaders who will be making some difficult decisions in the days and months ahead.
While we feel obligated to point out that much of the carnage could have been prevented by armed citizens, law enforcement officers, or sky marshals, we also believe that there are no simplistic solutions to terrorism. Remember that ordinary ammunition is hazardous on an airplane because it will penetrate the hull and lead to depressurization. And firing a gun in an extremely cramped and crowded plane also risks injury to innocent passengers.
More relevant is the fact that Americans have been indoctrinated to be good victims. We're told over and over again that we should never resist criminals, that we should passively submit to being robbed, raped, mugged, or hijacked. Women's centers teach women not to fight back, even though fighting back with a firearm is the most effective way to avoid injury. Employers require their employees to be disarmed, and to agree to whatever a criminal demands. Those of us who are willing to take responsibility for our own safety are shunned, persecuted, and generally made to feel like second class citizens who are not welcome in "civilized society".
The reason that a few hijackers armed only with knives and box cutters were able to murder tens of thousands of innocent people is less a problem of physically disarmed passengers, and more a problem of psychologically disarmed passengers.
Had the passengers been taught that fighting back is the honorable and appropriate response to thugs, things would likely have turned out differently. It now appears that this is exactly what happened on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania - the passengers attempted to subdue the hijackers. They gave their lives, but prevented the deaths of countless others, and the possible destruction of Camp David, the White House or the Capitol. They upheld our proud tradition of American heroism.
In a pinch, pocket knives, cell phones, pens, books, laptop computers, keys, etc. can all be used as weapons. All that's needed is the will and courage to fight back.
We do not say this to dishonor the dead, who almost certainly had no idea of what the terrorists planned. We're sure that had they known, they would have willingly sacrificed their lives to save thousands of others. We will probably never know how many heroic people did exactly that.
But we must resolve - right here, right now - that we will stop our idolatrous worship of safety above all else, and return to the values of individual responsibility, community responsibility, courage, and resistance to evil that made our nation great.
In the days and months ahead, we expect to see unprecedented attacks on our G-d given rights - not just the right to keep and bear arms, but the rights of free speech, of assembly, of privacy, of travel, and of due process. We expect to see calls for more gun control, more Carnivore type surveillance of the internet, more wiretaps and surveillance of cell phone traffic, more warrantless searches and seizures, more face recognition technology, more fingerprinting, more restrictions on peaceful assembly, and increasing demands for some sort of high-tech method to track everything each and every person does.
We must have the courage to oppose these attacks on our rights. We cannot preserve our freedom by destroying it. If we allow the acts of vicious criminals to turn the United States into a police state, they will have won, and we will lose everything.
Nearly 250 years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety".
Yesterday, President Bush said: "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining."
We pray he keeps his word.
Not only must we not give up our essential liberty for false promises of safety, we must ensure that our nation remains that "brightest beacon for freedom".
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners suggests the following:
Write to your Congressman, Senators, and state legislators and let them know that you are not willing to sacrifice your liberty for promises of safety, and that you expect them to protect and defend our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Also let them know that so long as our government protects our liberties, we will support them 100% in the difficult days ahead.
Check your preparedness status. Do you have adequate food, water, medical supplies, lighting, batteries, radios, and self defense equipment should you need them? We're not trying to be alarmist here, but we think citizens have the obligation to be prepared to be useful and self sufficient in time of crisis, rather than becoming additional burdens on social services.
Fly your flag! It's simple, free, shows your support for our country, and will encourage your neighbors to get into the patriotic spirit.
If you're in good enough health to donate blood, please give the gift of life. Also consider donating to the religious and charitable organizations that are helping victims. The American Red Cross web site has a lot of information at http://www.redcross.org
Don't stoop to hatred based on anyone's nationality, ethnicity or hatred. Justice is the most noble of human endeavors. Bigotry is not.
Don't let terrorists define our nation, and make sure that those who died did not die in vain!
Pray for wisdom, courage, and strength for the injured, the families of victims, President Bush, our Congress, and all Americans.
May G-d bless America, land of the FREE, home of the BRAVE.
Dr. Sarah Thompson is head of Utah Gun Owners Alliance, the only no compromise gun rights group in Utah, which frequently works in alliance with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.