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“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.”
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 8 August 2017  

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  Concealed carry in El Paso County
  By Mark Stoller

   The state of Colorado allows residents, by statute, to carry concealed firearms in public. As one of 45 states with firearm-friendly laws, Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-203 presents residents of Colorado with criteria for concealed carry, and entrusts each county sheriff to administer the legal process to issue permits.
   
   A February 2017 National Rifle Association media release states at least 11 states have passed laws allowing the concealed carry of firearms without a permit. Another 16 states have introduced legislation to do the same. Colorado is one of 42 states where specific requirements must be met to receive a permit authorizing the concealed carry of a firearm while in public.
   
   This year, State Bill 17-116, which allows “a law-abiding person to carry a concealed handgun without a permit” was introduced in the Colorado State Senate, and it passed. When presented to the Colorado House Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs, in April, it was placed in a “Postpone Indefinitely” status.
   
   The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office administers the county’s concealed carry program, and Sheriff Bill Elder is the issuer of the permits, which cost $112.50. The sheriff’s office fee is $60, and $52.50 is the fee paid to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to conduct the background check.
   
   Coordinator Laurie Thomas, of the permit office, said, “By statute, the sheriff’s office could charge $100 for the permit fee instead of $60.” The sheriff wants to keep the permit affordable for those who qualify to receive one.
   
   The population of El Paso County, as of the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau, was 674,471 people. “There are currently 44,981 active permits in the county,” Thomas said.“If you break that down, you get just over 6-1/2 percent of the county legally carrying a firearm concealed.
   
   “Definitely more men than women come in for a permit, although the number of female applicants has steadily increased over the last five years. We had a huge increase in applicants after the active shooter incidents in Colorado Springs.”
   
   There are no expected changes for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Concealed Carry Program. Elder will maintain the program requirements and fees “as is” for the foreseeable future, Thomas said.
   
   As stated in Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-214, the law authorizes a permit holder to carry a concealed handgun in all areas of the state except those expressly prohibited by the state and federal law (e.g., federal courthouses and other federally owned facilities); public elementary, middle or high schools; and public buildings with permanent security personnel and electronic weapons screening stations at each public entrance (e.g., state courthouses and the State Capitol Building). Weapons at school are allowed, if the handgun remains in a vehicle. Also, when the permittee is not in the vehicle, the handgun must be kept in a compartment and the vehicle must be locked.
   
   Denver International Airport has a strict weapons policy. DIA has signs posted
   at the entrance to the terminal, stating the following: “It is a FELONY OFFENSE for any person without legal authority to bring a loaded firearm or explosive or incendiary device into the airport or aboard a commercial aircraft. Violators may be sentenced to imprisonment for five years, or a fine of $10,000, or both.”
   
   Other public establishments ban weapons as well. According to a December 2015 Colorado Springs Gazette article, “Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Wendy's, Applebee's, Chili's Grill and Bar, Sonic Drive-In and Target also request that customers no longer openly carry firearms on their property. Cinemark only allows law enforcement officers to carry legal firearms in its theaters. Pikes Peak Library District banned open carry in 2003.”
   
   Beyond the legalities of whether to carry a firearm openly or concealed, there is an even more basic question to answer, “Why carry a gun at all?” The answer could be a matter of profession, personal choice, location or fear that compels one to carry a firearm. There are many articles concerning this question and the answers boil down to constitutional right; protection of self and family; preparedness; and deterrence.
   
   To carry a firearm as a civilian and not a member of law enforcement takes a certain individual, said retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. He divided people into three main categories: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs.
   
   "Most of the people in our society are sheep,” Grossman said. “They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. Then, there are the wolves, and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Lastly, there are sheepdogs. I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. There are evil men in this world, and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.”
   
   To inquire and apply for a concealed handgun permit, contact the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at 719-520-7249 or email chp@elpasoco.com. Visit https://www.epcsheriffsoffice.com/services/concealed-handgun-permit for more information.
   
   Next month: Pros and cons of concealed carry weapons.
  
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