Thursday, February 27, 2003
Steamboat Springs A bill to bring more consistency to the way concealed weapons permits are issued in Colorado has local law enforcement approval.
Routt County Sheriff John Warner supports legislation that would require sheriffs to give permits to anyone who passed criminal background checks and completed handgun-safety courses. Warner said he backs Senate Bill 24 because it would remove subjectivity from law enforcement's decision about who gets gun permits.
Current state law allows sheriffs and police chiefs to decide who gets permits.
"Whether I was Sheriff John Warner or Sheriff Buddy Grinstead in Moffat County, we would all be working under the same guidelines," he said.
Warner estimates he has issued more than 100 permits during his eight years as sheriff.
Law-abiding residents who clear their background checks and take the required training courses usually get their permit five to 10 days after they apply for authorization, he said.
The measure, which cleared the Senate earlier this week, comes before the House Local Affairs Committee this afternoon.
Assistant House Majority Leader Al White will present the bill in committee today. He anticipates a favorable outcome.
"I expect we should hear it on the House floor," he said.
But the Winter Park Republican is keeping a close eye on the bill for potential changes. Changing the plan could alienate major supporters like County Sheriffs of Colorado, an organization that lobbies on behalf of elected sheriffs in the state, and Gov. Bill Owens.
County Sheriffs of Colorado is backing a component of the bill that allows sheriffs to deny permits if documented evidence proves applicants are a threat to public safety.
Owens supports a part of the measure that bans arms in schools and public facilities with electronic scanners.
White believes there will be an attempt by both parties to amend the bill.
"It's a delicate balance," he said. "My concern is that amending it to either make it stronger or weaker in either fashion might have an adverse (effect)."
White said Senate Bill 24 would bring needed uniformity to the process of handing out gun permits in Colorado.
"It holds us all to the same standard," Warner said.