Who carries a gun in Eagle County?
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Someone peered into a window of Bob Bailey’s closed store late at night last year as he worked inside.
Bailey ran outside of his Eagle-Vail business, Personalized Motorcycle Service, to confront the person, who ran toward Interstate 70.
“They were not here to say hello,” Bailey said.
The potential burglary was one of several reasons Bailey decided to apply for a Colorado Concealed Weapons Permit. His permit was one of 44 permits given in Eagle County in 2007, a 300 percent increase from 2006, when 11 people got them.
Last year, nearly 9,300 people applied for Colorado Concealed Weapons Permits statewide, according to the County Sheriffs of Colorado. That’s a 49 percent increase from 2006.
Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, declined to say who or what kind of people had been given permits. As of last week, nine people had been given permits this year, she said.
That number could increase. Mathew Bayley, a local self-defense guru who teaches classes people need to get their permits, said he is scheduled to teach 18 concealed weapons classes between March and October. That’s double the number of classes he taught last year, he said.
This year, Bayley is also teaching four times the number of advanced shooting skills courses he taught last year.
The majority of his students, an even mix of men and women, are more than 30 years old. But in the last couple years, more people 70 years of age and up are taking his classes.
“We’re talking older people, people who have earned wealth, earned comfort, earned safety,” Bayley said.
Bayley thinks that more people are realizing that it’s their responsibility to provide for their own safety, he said.
“This is America. We’re supposed to be responsible for our own actions,” Bayley said.
As long as a gun is visible when it’s being carried, or if it’s in a person’s car of if it’s being used for hunting, people can carry a gun without a permit in most places ” except at public schools, bars, court and other places. But to hide it under one’s clothes, a permit is required.
Jodi Erdahl, of Eagle, carries a gun for protection when she walks with her dog, Otis, late at night in downtown Denver, where she and her husband own a condominium.
“He’s a big dog, but he wouldn’t protect anything but his own food,” she said.
Erdahl has been shooting for a few years and took Bayley’s class to get the certification she needed for a permit, which she got in fall 2007. She doesn’t want to carry one in a holster for everyone to see.
“I think it might draw some unwanted attention,” she said. “I’d rather not walk around like that, like a vigilante.”
Tom Jost is a member of the Patriots’ Border Alliance ” an organization that seeks to secure U.S. borders ” and he calls Republican presidential nominee John McCain a liberal. Jost, of East Vail, got a permit in 2005 because Republicans lawmakers fought hard to make carrying a concealed weapon legal, he said.
“I thought, you know, they fought for me,” he said. “I’m going to show them that I support them for doing that.”
He also wanted to prove that he was proficient with a gun, and if he ever had to shoot someone, the permit would bolster his credibility, Jost said.
“It should give support to the fact that I more than likely used it in a justified manner,” he said.
He also thinks the element of surprise of a hidden gun will give him an advantage in case he has to defend himself, he said.
“If something were to happen you wouldn’t want a crook to realize you had a concealed-carry,” Jost said. “He would turn the gun on you first.”
Permit applications ask a number of personal questions such as, “Have you been treated for alcoholism within the past ten years” and “Have you ever been committed to a mental institution.” People also have to pay more than $150 for extensive criminal history checks.
Bob Bailey’s permit took longer than the maximum 90-day waiting period to get due to a high school prank that landed him in jail when he was 18 years old. But he was glad that the Sheriff’s Office scrutinized his application, he said.
“I am thrilled to death that the law enforcement agencies are going to the lengths that they do,” Bailey said. “They have a sense of protection for all of us as to who they hand these out to.”
Bailey carries his gun when hiking, traveling and when he’s in his business late at night.
The world’s becoming a more dangerous place and police can’t always be there when a crime occurs, he said.
“I feel that a lot of us go through the training and feel confident in our own abilities,” he said.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.