With the most contentious of public issues, the solution can typically be found in the middle — and the gun control debate is no exception. Vicki Marble of Colorado Senate District 23 introduced a bill last Wednesday that would expand concealed carry in Colorado by essentially removing the need for a permit to do so. If the legislation were to pass, anyone legally allowed to possess a handgun would be free to carry the weapon in all concealed-carry areas. While expanding gun owners’ ease to exercise their Second Amendment rights would be preferable, there are problems with this legislation that make the bill an inadequate balance of interests for gun owners and concerned citizens.
On the front of it, Sen. Marble’s legislation seems like a step in the right direction. Eliminating the need for concealed-carry permits would save consumers money, and save law enforcement the time needed to process every application. Costs vary by area, but in Larimer County, the application process for a concealed carry permit costs just over $150. Furthermore, this change would affect only a small percentage of people. According to the the Crime Prevention Research Center, concealed-carry permit holders make up less than 5 percent of the U.S. population, and less than 200,000 of such people reside in Colorado. What harm could there be in removing financial roadblocks for a small subset of Coloradoans to more fully exercise their right to bear arms?
The critical point in this issue is that Colorado’s concealed-carry permit process is the only major check in our gun system. Surprisingly, our state has little to no extra stipulations beyond federal law when it comes to the sale and use of firearms. For example, rifles and shotguns can be purchased and carried in Colorado without permit, license or registration. The only requirements are the federally established age minimum and the ability to pass a criminal background check.
Our state’s firearms laws (or lack of) do not provide much real check to consumers’ ability to obtain guns, which makes the concealed-carry permits Sen. Marble is trying to eliminate essential to the balance of our firearms system. The background check required under law to purchase firearms only checks for people with criminal histories, and doesn’t account for other factors. The application for concealed-carry permits monitors for these additional factors, such as any issues with alcohol abuse, drug use or mental illness. These are crucial checks to the system that would be lost if Marble’s legislation were to pass. While it could be argued that these checks for drug problems or mental instabilities should be in place for any type of firearm possession, that’s not the argument here. State law is wonky, and these checks need to be in place at some point in the system. Cutting balances is not the place to start.
Gun owners should be allowed the right to “conceal carry” any firearms they have legally obtained. However, the current permit process required in Colorado provides an integral check to balance gun possession in our state that we cannot lose. Like any contentious public issue, there is no easy answer to this matter. While we could stand to change the law, cutting these balances is not the place to start.
Collegian Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @seanskenn.
*Correction: A previous version of this article stated the cost of conceal carry permits in Larimer County was $50, when in fact the current cost is $150. The Collegian sincerely regrets its error.