In the months since Colorado’s new gun laws have been in effect the number of concealed carry permits has grown. Nearly 150 thousand people are legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Despite strong feelings about guns, both pro and con, what hasn’t increased are complaints lodged against people legally carrying guns. Aspen Public Radio's Roger Adams reports.
“As far as somebody saying, ‘I saw the outline of a gun or I saw the barrel of a gun underneath someone’s jacket when they lifted their arm up.’ We’ve had none of that.”
That’s Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. County sheriffs in Colorado issue concealed carry permits.
On many online gun-owner or shooting forums a common topic of discussion is about what happens if someone with a concealed carry permit accidently displays the weapon. For example, someone with a pistol in a waist holster reaches for something on a grocery shelf and the gun shows. A frequent concern in these discussions and on You Tube is whether or not that display is illegal.
Some of the concern in online discussions focuses on what’s called printing. Printing refers to the outline of a gun showing through clothing. It defeats the purpose of a concealed carry permit if the pistol tucked into a pair of jeans pokes out from under a t-shirt.
This has given rise to several trends in the gun world; manufacturers are producing smaller and thinner weapons that are meant to be concealed. The same is true of gun accessories; there are myriad holsters designed to streamline a pistol’s profile.
Sheldon Fingerman is a National Rifle Association (NRA) certified shooting instructor in Aspen and he also runs classes for people seeking a concealed carry permit.
“The latest method of carrying are called inside-the-waistband holsters. So, very little of the gun is sticking up and a lot of these holsters you can actually tuck your shirt in. Nobody really know it, I mean, you can’t see it at all.”
In Colorado the issue of printing or mistakenly allowing a concealed weapon to display is not a crime. That’s because the state has what are known as open carry laws. In other words, it is legal in Colorado to openly carry a weapon like a pistol in a holster. Which raises another question, why if open carry is legal would someone need or want a concealed carry permit?
“People that are gun people, I’ll call them, like options. So, in other words I can put the gun in my pocket and go to the range without having o worry about carrying concealed. I can throw the gun in my pocket and walk into town without having to worry about anything.”
An exception to legal displaying of a weapon, concealed or open, is menacing, defined under Colorado law as “knowingly placing another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” That is a misdemeanor. Menacing becomes a felony if someone indicates “verbally or otherwise that he or she is armed with a deadly weapon.”
Firearms instructors like Sheldon Fingerman spend time in their classes cautioning people who intend to carry a weapon to be extra polite.
“When you get a concealed carry permit, I think the idea is you have to be the better person. OK, you have a gun now. You have to be a little more careful. If you get in an argument with somebody, the gun is strictly as a last resort when you feel that your life is in danger.”
And, says Fingerman, if someone with a carry permit ever does pull the weapon they should immediately call police once the incident has ended and report it.