One in 28 residents of El Paso County has a concealed handgun permit (CHP), and the Sheriff's Office has been flooded with new applicants since the July 20 Aurora theater shooting, and more recently, the Dec. 14 massacre of 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
As of Dec. 4, there were 22,341 active CHPs in our county of 636,000 people (according to July 2011 Census numbers). That's the most permits of any county in Colorado, says Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Kramer.
On Tuesday, the department received so many calls about getting a CHP that there was a 106-call backlog by the end of the day. Kramer didn't know how many people called to set up appointments during the entire day.
The New York Times issued a breaking news alert today, saying:
President Obama said Wednesday that he will submit broad new gun control proposals to Congress no later than January and will commit the power of his office to overcoming political opposition in the wake of last week’s school massacre.
Kramer, who's worked in the CHP office since May, says the office has been "going from busy to extremely busy."
Asked what he attributes the uptick to, he says, "I think when people see news like out of Connecticut, all of us have an emotional response to that. For some people, they think with this type of violence in our society, especially in places we like to assume are a safe environment, 'I'm going to choose to purchase a firearm and get a permit and protect myself if I were in one of these environments and something like this occurred.'
"Another segment of folks, they want to get a permit so they might be able to intervene in a situation that comes up."
Be aware that the process for obtaining a CHP isn't quick, and involves background checks and required gun training. More information on the process is here.
Although more residents here have concealed carry permits than elsewhere, they seem to be a law-abiding group. Kramer says he's unaware of any CHP holder who's been arrested for a gun-related crime.
The county's active concealed carry program was launched by then-Sheriff John Anderson in the 1990s and has since been continued by Sheriff Terry Maketa.