Vail Law: Colorado’s Concealed Carry Law
Vail, CO, Colorado
Lately in the news has been a narrowly-defeated proposal in the U.S. Senate to expand gun rights. The defeated legislation would have made a concealed weapons permit issued by one state valid in every state that allows such rights.
The bill, which was defeated by a scant two votes, had the backing of the nation’s gun lobby and the presumed support of the more than 5 million Americans who have permits to carry concealed weapons.
Most states have some form of concealed weapons laws but they vary widely. In Vermont, for example, 16-year-olds may carry a concealed weapon without permit. In Alaska, concealed-carry permits may be issued to persons with violent misdemeanor convictions. Many states – including Colorado – have “reciprocity” agreements with other states whereby a person’s right to carry a concealed weapon issued by their home state is recognized in other states in which they may be traveling. Colorado has reciprocity agreements with 27 other states. Concealed carry holders from other states must follow the criminal statutes of the state within which they find themselves.
The recent brouhaha sheds a light on “carry” rights. What then, is the state of Colorado’s concealed weapons carry laws?
The Brady Bill
Before moving to Colorado’s concealed-carry law – which dates to 2003 – a few words on the “Brady Bill” are in order.
Known more formally as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the bill was passed in 1993 and is named after James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s former press secretary who was grievously injured in the March 1981 assassination attempt on the president. Initially, the Brady Bill required purchasers to wait up to five days for a background check before being allowed to purchase a handgun. In some states, proof of a previous background check could be used to bypass the wait. Often, a state-issued concealed carry permit included a background check equivalent to the one required by the act and could be used in its place.
The act applied only to transfers from licensed dealers to private individuals. Sales between private parties were not covered. The provision in the act that required local law enforcement officials to carry out background checks was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1997, and the act became a simple five-day waiting period.
The waiting period provision of the act expired in 1998. Now, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, managed by the FBI, runs database checks on criminal records. A handgun purchaser may still have to wait for up to three business days if the system fails to approve or deny his or her application to purchase a firearm. If the denial is not issued within those three days, however, the transfer may be completed at that time. State alternatives to the background check, such as state-issued handgun permits or mandatory state or local checks, may still bypass the federal check.
The ‘Naked Man’ provision
If one purchases a handgun legally and passes the federal background check, he or she will generally pass the background check required under state law. I say generally, because a provision of state law – known as “Naked Man” provisions – permits the issuing sheriff’s office to deny a permit to known scofflaws without criminal convictions. Concealed carry permits are issued by the sheriff in the county in which the applicant resides. Some of the requirements are:
• You must be at least 21.
• You must be a legal resident of Colorado or active military stationed at a permanent duty station in this state.
• You must not chronically abuse alcoholic beverages.
• You must not be an unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance.
• You are not subject to a protective order.
• You have demonstrated competence with a handgun by submitting evidence of experience or training with a handgun (including current military service, honorable discharge from the armed forces within the last three years, certificate of completion of a handgun training class, and others).
There are restrictions, too. For example, you cannot carry a concealed weapon at a public elementary, middle or high school nor at facilities with security personnel and electronic weapons screening devices. Obviously, you cannot carry a concealed weapon on an airplane.
Concealed weapons permit applications may not cost more than $100 plus fingerprinting fees. The permit is good for five years but can be revoked in certain circumstances.
The right to carry concealed weapons will continue to be controversial. If you intend to carry, make sure you do so lawfully.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. His practice areas include: business and commercial transactions, real estate and development, homeowner’s associations, family law and divorce and civil litigation. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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