Amid the recent widespread coronavirus meltdown, most counties in the state of Colorado have halted the issuing of new concealed handgun permits due to government agencies suspending all fingerprinting and other non-essential in-person contact in an effort to comply with public health directives. This included the required fingerprinting while issuing a new concealed handgun permit.
After several county sheriffs urged the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to put a temporary process in place to issue these permits, Colorado Governor Jared Polis included a section related to concealed handgun permits in Executive Order D-2020-029 which was issued on Monday, April 6, 2020. This section of the order alters the requirements to apply for and issue a concealed handgun permit under C.R.S. 18-12-205 by doing two things: suspending the in-person requirements, and eliminating the requirement that the sheriff must take two complete sets of an applicant’s fingerprints to submit to the CBI. The order goes on to strongly encourage sheriffs to only issue a temporary emergency permit which would expire after 90 days as well as conduct a Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC)/National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check of each applicant. The governor is also encouraging sheriffs to revisit and reevaluate permits issued under this executive order once the health directives have been lifted. It appears these are only suggestions and ultimately the process will be left up to the individual county sheriffs to determine on a community level.
Here is the related excerpt of Executive Order D-2020-029:
I. I temporarily suspend the “in person” requirements related to the application and issuance of permits to carry concealed handguns (Concealed Handgun Permits) contained in C.R.S. §§ 18-12-205(2)(a), (2)(b), (3)(a), (3)(b), and (4)(a). I also temporarily suspend the requirement in C.R.S. § 18-12-205(4)(b) that a sheriff shall take two (2) complete sets of an applicant’s fingerprints to submit to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In assessing each Concealed Handgun Permit application, I strongly encourage sheriffs, in order to maintain safety through social distancing, to first consider issuance of a temporary emergency permit pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-12-209 (valid for an initial period of ninety (90) days) if appropriate, and second, to conduct a Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC)/National Crime Information Center (NCIC) check of each applicant to determine whether the applicant is eligible to possess a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) before issuing a Concealed Handgun Permit. During the effective period of this Executive Order, sheriffs may issue Concealed Handgun Permits pursuant C.R.S. §§ 18- 12-206 or -209 upon completion of the requirements of C.R.S. § 18-12-205, as modified by this Executive Order. Upon expiration of this Executive Order, I strongly encourage sheriffs to revisit and reevaluate permits granted under this Executive Order for compliance with all of the mandates in C.R.S. § 18-12-205.
With record breaking gun sales in the past thirty days, the limitations of the permitting process for those wishing to obtain a new conceal carry permit has created barriers, and we believe the better deregulation would be an executive order allowing for constitutional carry (allowing for open or conceal carry without a permit). Currently Colorado law only allows for the open carry of a firearm without a permit while conceal carry requires one.
But another barrier that still exists, even with the latest executive order, is the training requirement under C.R.S. 18-12-203(1)(h). This statute requires the applicant to submit a training certificate from a handgun training class they completed within the ten years prior. Although the executive order does suspend the requirement to submit the certificate in person, it does not change any of the training requirements – which explicitly requires in-person contact and makes clear online-only courses do not suffice.
According to C.R.S. 18-12-202(5)(III) the training requirement states:
(III) A firearms safety course or class that is offered and taught by a certified instructor.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this subsection
(5), “handgun training class” does not include any firearms safety course that allows a person to complete the entire course:(I) Via the internet or an electronic device; or
(II) In any location other than the physical location where the certified instructor offers the course
This means that applicants MUST be in both close proximity to other individuals and at a place of business in order to obtain this training certificate, all while under the governor’s own stay-at-home order.
Although if the sheriffs are issuing Temporary Emergency Permits it does suspend the training requirement for 90 days.
Another slice of the governor’s most recent executive order is likely related to the backlog CBI is facing with the unprecedented amount of background checks on gun purchases that has created a wait time of several days.
This section of the order waives the requirement that CBI make a determination within 30 days on denied background checks when the transferree claims it was imporperly denied. Although the order is only good until April 30th or until any extension is lifted, it’s unclear how long CBI would have after it’s lifted.
Here is the related excerpt:
K. I temporarily suspend the requirement in C.R.S. § 24-33.5-424(5)(b)(II) that CBI render a
final administrative decision regarding the denial of a firearm transfer within thirty (30)
days after receiving information from the transferee that alleges the transfer was
improperly denied, to provide CBI with additional time to complete these duties in light
of the support they are providing to the State during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the
expectation that CBI will fulfill these duties as soon as practicable.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith has already put into place how his office plans to utilize the deregulation surrounding this executive order and concealed handgun permits. According to a post on the Sheriff’s Facebook page, they do intend to run applicants through NCIC as well as complete fingerprinting once the health directives have been lifted.
If you would like to know how your county is handling this, please contact them and then report back to us. We’ll keep on top of the situation.