Concealed-carry permit applicants level off

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After a sizeable spike in 2016 that nearly doubled the previous year’s total, the number of concealed handgun permits issued by the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office appears to be leveling off.

From Jan. 1 through July 17 of this year, the sheriff’s office issued 1,034 permits. By comparison, 1,933 permits were issued last year, a notable increase over both 2015 (1,052) and 2014 (1,166).

Although 2017’s numbers are trending up from 2014 and 2015, Undersheriff JR Hall said the sheriff’s office does not anticipate the 2016 mark to be surpassed.

“I think we will probably hit close to in the middle of those figures by the end of the year,” Hall said in a telephone interview. “The numbers are kind of waning off toward the middle of the year. So I’m not sure we’re going to hit the 1,900 we hit in 2016.”

And while 2016 was an election year, Hall does not see any correlation between that fact and the significant jump in permits from 2015.

“Realistically, more and more people are finding out that they want this,” Hall said. “And that Colorado makes it extremely available and that most sheriffs, including this agency, make them easy to obtain.

“And if we have the right personnel in the right positions, then we get those things accomplished very quickly.”

There are, obviously, requirements for those who seek to legally carry a concealed weapon.

First, an application obtainable via the sheriff’s office website is submitted in person to the sheriff’s office. While the application is reviewed, a background check is conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Also required is demonstrated firearms proficiency, a credential normally obtained through concealed-carry classes or a firearms academy.

Rick Sindeband, who has operated the Have Gun Will Train Colorado firearms academy for over a decade, said a typical class covers firearms safety and handling, Colorado use of deadly force laws, and ammunition and holster issues.

Completion of a class aside, a history that includes misuse of a firearm, or being charged with firearms or domestic violence offenses, would preclude an applicant from obtaining a permit.

“There really aren’t that many barriers,” Hall said, noting that the overwhelming majority of applicants see their request approved.

As an example, in 2016, only 11 people were denied a permit, with seven existing permits revoked for various reasons throughout the year.

The number of women successfully applying for permits continues to trend upward, Hall noted. In 2014, 26 percent of the applicants were female. That number edged up to 27 percent the following year before moving up to 34 percent in 2016.

“It’s ticking up,” Hall said of the number of females obtaining permits. “All people, regardless of gender, are seeking concealed-handgun permits and we expect this trend to continue and better represent gender demographics in Pueblo County.”

In all, the county has 6,260 active concealed-carry permits.

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