With the help of a female model packing heat, the bill that could allow Coloradans to conceal their handguns without permit on private K-12 school grounds and across most other areas of Colorado passed out of a House committee Thursday with bipartisan support.
The bill, if signed into law, would make it legal for those who pass the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) instant criminal background check, conducted when purchasing a handgun, to be able to also conceal a handgun without a concealed weapons permit.
“This bill would allow one thing and one thing only, it would allow law abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun in the state without a permit,” Bill sponsor State Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, said.
Holbert went on to provide a demonstration of what he saw as the absurdity of concealed carry laws by exhibiting a woman taking on and off her coat while wearing a holstered replica firearm.
The demonstration appeared to prove compelling enough to sway votes allowing for the bills passage from the House Judiciary Committee.
Under the bill, concealed handguns will remain illegal on public K-12 campuses; however, the bill if passed would amend the Colorado Revised Statues section 18-12-105.5 to allow for individuals without a concealed carry license to carry a handgun on most public properties pursuant to section 18-12-214.
That section essentially allows individuals with concealed carry permits to conceal weapons throughout Colorado except in K-12 schools and in public areas where detection devices have been established. The section does not exempt private K-12 schools and stipulates that private property rights are not to be limited by the section.
Representatives voted down an amendment to the bill which would have made private K-12 schools off limits to most individuals concealing weapons.
Holbert agreed with testimony that his bill would not change where you can have a concealed weapon, only who can have one by extending concealed carry to those who have passed the CBI background check.
Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, said she felt there was a distinct difference between allowing a person to have a gun and allowing them to carry that weapon in a concealed manner.
“I think having a permit serves a purpose.” Levy said. “Your bill says that if you can open carry you can conceal carry as if the two were equivalent, and I don’t think they are. I think it is a dangerous situation when people are walking around with concealed weapons and nobody knows who they are.”
Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said as opposed to the bill as Levy was, he was equally for it.
“I think it is a very compelling argument when you can carry without a jacket on but once you put the jacket on you have to pay the money for the permit and have to do other things.”
Republicans were not the only ones behind the bill. Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, said he was dedicated to his oath to the Constitution and was voting in favor of the bill despite reservations. “I take my oath to the constitution very seriously, I see the absurdity with the existing rules… taking your coat on and off. It shouldn’t make a difference,” he said.
With two Democrats joining Republicans in passing the legislation out of committee, the bill will now go to the committee of the whole for further consideration.