More carrying concealed weapons in Garfield County

John GardnerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent photo illustration

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado The Bill of Rights states clearly, in the second amendment to the United States Constitution, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.The people of Colorado have taken that to heart, literally.We saw a little increase in concealed weapons permits last year, said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.Last year, according to the County Sheriffs of Colorado, nearly 9,300 people applied for Colorado Concealed Weapons Permits (CCWs) statewide. That number was up a staggering 49 percent from 2006. Garfield County witnessed a 44 percent rise in applications from 63 in 2006 to 136 last year. So far this year Garfield Sheriffs have already received 47 applications, six of which have been denied or revoked for various reasons.Usually if it was denied it was due to something in their background check, said Garfield County Sheriff Sgt. Steven Spencer.But the number of applications to date for 2008 is only 16 behind the entire number issued for 2006. Spencer estimated that he could see upward of 150 applications this year.This year is the year we will see a jump in the numbers. We are already on course to beat last year, Spencer said. The permits we issued in 2003 are up for renewal under the new (state) laws and we will probably see a lot of those coming in.Vallario said the state laws regarding CCWs changed in 2003, stating each person with a permit must renew it every five years. Meaning, anyone with a permit issued prior to 2003 is coming up for renewal this year.However, the reason for the increase can be attributed to many causes, according to Spencer. He said several reasons like increase in population countywide since 2003 and the highly publicized shootings, like the Virginia Tech incident where a gunman killed 32 people, could be attributed to the drastic rise in interest for the permits.Its sometimes fear related, Vallario said. There are a lot of people that are pro-gun and say its their constitutional right, some say its just a protection thing and they want to be able to protect their family and themselves.The process to acquire a CCW is fairly simple, too. As long as the applicant has a clean criminal history, void of any felonies, it doesnt take much more than an eight-hour class and submitting an application to the Sheriffs Office.Vallario said Garfield County residents pay $150 for the CCW and $52.50 for processing finger prints and background check through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The whole process could take between 60 and 90 days as long as the applicant has acquired a Personal Protection Certificate and submitted it with the application.You have to have some kind of handgun training in the past 10 years, said Jim Builteman.Builteman is a National Rifle Association certified instructor for seven different classifications including personal protection in the home, which is accepted for CCWs, and has taught hunter safety in Garfield County for 10 years.Builteman said the personal protection in the home certificate requires about four hours of classroom training and another four hours, or 100 rounds, at a firing range.This isnt a hunting permit, Builteman said. You carry concealed to protect yourself on the street if you have to. But there will be some pretty serious repercussions if you do.Chris Maniscalchi, owner of Rhino Liquors near Thunder River Market on Highway 82, has had a CCW since 2003. Being a retired Basalt Police officer and a business owner, he said his handgun is just something that hes gotten used to carrying with him.I just feel naked without it, Maniscalchi said. Its a tool Ive used for a long time. Just like a carpenter and a hammer.Vallario said that many business owners dont need to apply for the CCW because, according to Colorado State law, business owners can carry weapons in their places of business for protection.Anywhere in the public you need a CCW to carry a concealed weapon, Vallario said. A business owner can carry one in their business, but when they cross the street to get into their vehicle, they need to carry it exposed.Regardless, carrying a gun isnt something that should be taken lightly.There is nothing a person can do that carries any more load of responsibility than carrying a gun concealed, Builteman said. Its for protection, but even then its a last resort.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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