How the Colorado Legislature Endangers Innocent Lives
by Ari Armstrong, February 21, 2006
In 2003, the Colorado Legislature passed legislation that allows residents to acquire a permit to carry a weapon concealed, with certain conditions. While some states restrict concealed carry even more severely, Alaska and Vermont allow residents to carry a defensive weapon concealed without a permit. Colorado's system, while better than nothing, imposes lengthy delays and other barriers that endanger innocent lives.
Today (February 21) I talked with a representative from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department about getting a concealed-carry permit. If you're in eminent danger, forget about it. You cannot legally carry a concealed weapon to protect your life. If a woman is threatened by a stalker or violent ex, she will have to wait weeks to get a permit. I was told that even an emergency, temporary permit takes about two weeks to process, and it requires documentation of a specific threat. But what if she's attacked within those two weeks? Perhaps then the sheriff's office will send out somebody to photograph the dead body.
I should have applied for a permit long ago. Even though getting a permit requires the gun owner to register with the state and (like a criminal) undergo fingerprinting and a background check, I'm already a public figure. It's no secret that I support the fundamental human right of self-defense.
Because I write about controversial political issues, I am at increased risk of attack. Some years ago I received a nasty death threat. Now, I have reproduced the Danish cartoons that have been the pretext for riots and death threats around the world. While the local Muslim community has criticized violence, I'm worried that a lone individual might get caught up in the frenzy and attack somebody associated with the cartoons. I don't think it's a great risk, but it is a heightened risk. Similarly, I don't get into the car expecting somebody to run into me, but I wear my seatbelt nevertheless. The risk to my life -- and the lives of my loved ones -- is probably small, but it still exists. And I have a right to defend myself. It is a right that the state is infringing.
In addition to the delay, a permit imposes various other barriers. Notably, these barriers are harder to overcome by the poor.
I was told that permit applications are accepted only Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. So you better not be threatened on a Friday. People with regular jobs often have difficulty making appointments during business hours. (Fortunately, my schedule is more flexible.)
The fee is over $150. My wife and I -- who must transfer around $4,000 more to the national government and another $1,000 more to the state government within the next two months -- simply don't have the funds available to pay this fee. The poor will have an even more difficult time paying it.
Fortunately, I have already taken a certified firearms course. Certified training is a good idea, but the time and money involved can prevent people (especially the poor) from defending their lives in an emergency.
Sure, I could carry openly. However, as a Rocky Mountain Gun Owners faq points out, cities may restrict open carry in specific areas at whim. Also, carrying concealed is safer, because potential attackers do not have information about the weapon. (In the case of a random attack, carrying concealed is safer because then the attacker doesn't know who is armed.)
The state legislature has prevented me from exercising my right of self defense in a timely, effective manner. The purpose of government is to protect rights. In this case it is violating them, and it is putting innocent lives in danger.