1997 Colorado General Assembly Convenes: Concealed Carry Still a Gamble

Friday, January 10, 1997 -- The 120-day session of the Colorado legislature convened on Wednesday, with Republicans still firmly in charge.

The Colorado House saw no net change: Republicans have 41 seats to the Democrats 24 seats. The Senate gained 1 seat for Republicans, increasing their majority to 20-15.

As the papers have reported, the Senate has shifted slightly to the right. Passing a concealed carry law, however, will still be difficult. Expect the action to come in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Problem

Senate President Tom Norton (R-Greeley) has assigned all concealed carry bills to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where they have died for the last 3 years. The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is Dottie Wham (R-Denver), one of the Senate's most liberal Republicans and ally of anti-gun Denver Police Chief Michaud. Wham, along with Senator Sally Hopper (R-Golden), is likely to vote with Democrats if any concealed carry bill actually gives citizens the right to self defense. Even one Republican defection will kill the bill (a 4-4 tie kills a bill).

Senate Judiciary Committee Members

    Dottie Wham, Chairman (R-Denver) Anti-gun

    Dick Mutzebaugh, Vice (R-H. Ranch) Pro-gun

    Ken Arnold (R-Westminster) Pro-gun

    Gigi Dennis (R-Pueblo) Pro-gun

    Sally Hopper (R-Golden) Anti-gun

    Ed Perlmutter (D-Wheat Ridge) Anti-gun

    Dorothy Rupert (D-Boulder) Anti-gun

    Bill Thiebaut (R-Pueblo) Anti-gun

The Solution

Call Senate President Tom Norton's office immediately at (303) 866-3342 and ask him to assign any Concealed Carry Bills to the State Affairs Committee, where they at least have a chance to pass. Please be polite and courteous, but let him know that gun owners played an important role in returning Republicans to leadership.

Bill Status

As of 10:00 AM Thursday, only two firearms-related bills have been introduced, which will be detailed in a later fax. Sen. Ken Chlouber (R-Leadville) is expected to introduce his concealed carry bill by mid next week. 

1997 Chlouber introduces Concealed Carry, but may compromise

Wednesday, January 15, 1997 -- State Senator Ken Chlouber (R-Leadville) introduced his bill to grant concealed carry permits, but already showed public signs he may compromise on key provisions.

The Bill

Senate Bill 96 leaves issuing authority with Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police and establishes reasons for denying the permits. A three year concealed handgun permit will be granted to U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older; have completed training (see below); have not been convicted of a felony; have not been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent for felony-type offenses; have no restraining order in place; have no legal history of using drugs or habitually using alcohol (such as two driving under the influence revocations); is not taking medication for one of five major mental illness'; and several other circumstances.

The Good Provisions

First, this bill legalizes a long-assumed right of Coloradans; the practice of carrying in your own vehicle. Current law only allows this if you are "traveling," which the courts have ruled as an overnight stay. Chlouber's bill would make loaded and chambered handguns (chambered rifles and shotguns fall under hunting restrictions) in vehicles legal, a major step forward.

Next, the bill adds no restrictions for the carrying of concealed weapons. In years past, "Safezones" were added, making a permit holder navigate a labyrinth of legal hotspots.

SB96 also currently has no language to allow municipalities to nullify permits within its jurisdiction. The bill does not have a "compelling need" and standardizes applications throughout the state, avoiding forms that require an applicant to list his weapons and their serial numbers, made popular by Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan. The permit are not gun specific.

Finally, the training requirements are set low, including "...ANY NRA HANDGUN SAFETY OR TRAINING CLASS..." or any class "...CONDUCTED BY A STATE CERTIFIED OR NRA CERTIFIED FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR."

The Bad News

Senate President Tom Norton again assigned SB96 to the Judiciary Committee, where it will face a hostile crowd. Few expect the bill to emerge from the committee without major changes.

Even worse, Sen. Chlouber is showing signs that he is willing to compromise on the bill. Tuesday's Denver Post said Chlouber is "...willing to compromise to get it passed." It also quotes Sen. Chlouber as saying "I'm trying to get everybody's support, even the anti-gun people."

Tony Lombard of the Denver Police Department said they will demand applicants show a "compelling need" to carry a concealed handgun, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dottie Wham (R-Denver) will likely follow their wishes. Stay tuned for more action.

New Web Site To better keep you informed, RMGO has a web site. It has up-to-the-minute information on Colorado legislative battles, including concealed carry, posted by RMGO's State Capitol lobbyist. Check us out at http://home.mho.net/RMGO. (RMGO is now at http://www.RMGO.org)

Concealed Carry bill to be heard on Wednesday; Compromise effort likely

Thursday, Feb. 6 1997 -- Senate Bill 96, State Senator Ken Chlouber's (R-Leadville) newest Concealed Carry bill, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 12 at 1:30 pm in Room 356.

The Good News

Senate Bill 96 is a relatively good bill. It leaves issuing authority in the Sheriff's hands, but would force them to issue under most circumstances. As compared to other bills, it most closely resembles the 1994 bill by then-State Representative Drew Clark, which died on the House floor.

The bill has no "compelling need" requirement, and no "safezones" where permit holders cannot carry (except for those areas prohibited by federal law). It's a three year permit, and has minimal training requirements.

The Bad News

First, the bill is in the worst committee possible, thanks to Senate President Tom Norton (R-Greeley). The Senate Judiciary Committee consists of 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats, but Chairman Senator Dottie Wham (R-Denver) and Sen. Sally Hopper (R-Golden) both have a long history of voting against gun rights.

Worst of all, Sen. Chlouber is showing signs that he is willing to compromise on the bill. The Denver Post said Chlouber is "...willing to compromise to get it passed." It also quotes Sen. Chlouber as saying "I'm trying to get everybody's support, even the anti-gun people."

The strategy to pass a bad bill, which we can then change in later years, is disastrous. That strategy would send many of our army home (right now, our numbers and passion are our biggest asset) because it would appear that the fight is over. The anti-gunners would like nothing better than to have a bad bill pass -- with "safezones," extensive training requirements and other unacceptable provisions -- to keep us quiet, and to take the pressure off. Passing a bad concealed carry bill would only give cover to anti-gun politicians, and Gov. Romer would certainly veto the bill.

Our biggest enemy is a compromise generated from a smoke-filled room.

What You Can Do

Contact State Sen. Ken Chlouber today (303-866-4866) and urge him not to compromise with the anti-gunners' demands. Tell him (or his voice mail) that a compromise will just give our enemies cover, since we cannot get a good law with Romer in the Governor's seat. Please be polite and courteous, but let him know that gun owners will not tolerate a compromise on this crucial issue.

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