Colorado Springs concealed handgun program: ‘We’re swamped’

Emily Stanchfield on Flickr


COLORADO SPRINGS — Want a permit to carry a concealed handgun in Colorado Springs? Wait in line. A long line.

“We’re swamped,” says Laurie Thomas, coordinator for the Concealed Handgun Program at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Workers there are handling 70 appointments per day. She likened it to an assembly line.

Following two mass shootings in Colorado Springs in the past two months, new applications for handgun permits have been rolling in.

“The first shooting was Oct. 31, so people had to go through classes, so obviously we didn’t see an immediate rise,” Thomas, says. “With the second shooting, that’s when we really saw the second increase.”

Stats from the sheriff’s office show 102 new applications in the week following the first triple homicide in Colorado Springs, which took place the morning of Oct. 31. That’s the same amount of new applications as the week prior. New applications then dipped to 78 from Nov. 9 through Nov. 13 (the office was closed for Veterans Day). From Nov. 16 to Nov. 20, 111 new applications came in. The office was closed for two days for Thanksgiving between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27, which saw 89 new applicants.

Then a spike. From Nov. 30 through Dec. 4 the office saw 160 new permit applications. From Dec. 7 through Dec. 11, 204 new ones came in.

About the rise in permit applications toward the end of this year, El Paso County Sheriff spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby called it “a natural kind of knee jerk reaction … which is interesting since we are an open carry state.”

In Colorado, lawful gun owners don’t need a permit to carry a weapon as long it’s visible. If Coloradans want to carry a concealed weapon they must apply for a permit through their local sheriff’s office.

Last year the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office received a total of 7,275 applications for concealed handgun permits, more than any other county, according to data from the County Sheriffs of Colorado Association. Of those, 3,999 were new applicants and the rest were renewals. That was a dip from 2013, the year Colorado lawmakers passed new gun laws banning the sale of high-capacity magazines and requiring background checks for private gun sales. That year a record 12,261 people applied for concealed handgun permits in El Paso County, 9,653 of them new.

For the month of November 2015, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation processed 3,049 background checks for concealed weapon permit applicants statewide.


  1. The Crazy Corner of Colorado is arming itself…the Insane Asylum of the West has lost its minds….so, now, with all these “concealed” weapons, is it now ok to shoot first and ask questions later? How can we tell if that person holding onto a weapon is a good guy? or that person walking down the sidewalk, is he or isn’t he a good guy? Let the shootings continue….

  2. Yep, that’s JUST what we need, more scared people carrying more machines of death that they don’t know HOW or WHEN to use. Look for more highway shootings, more home shootings, and more Florida type insanity right here in Colorado.

    Is the Springs trying for the “Florida of the North” award? They’re not far from it already, but this isn’t helping at all.

    So I guess I just have to ask if the low taxes there are contributing to the obvious sense of safety and well being these people have about living in their conservative utopia? Because it seems to me that if things are actually going that well, you wouldn’t feel it necessary to be able to shoot your way out of any situation you WON’T EVER find yourself in.

    I used to like the Springs, it’s a beautiful area and a nice town. You won’t find me stopping there, anymore, or in much of any town close by. They have lost their minds there.

  3. When we allow people to conceal weapons; we never know if a fight or disturbance will become deadly. That’s why we don’t allow them in court rooms. (I hope Colorado doesn’t) Things can heated and you don’t want someone with a gun in the mix. Even good people lose it sometimes and out of nowhere out comes the handgun. Ridiculous.

  4. In attempt to reduce the ignorance of this comment string, it is those which lawfully obtain the privilege to arm themselves and carry a concealed weapon which I am thankful for.

    In order to obtain a CCW, one must have no felonies, no history of violence or domestic abuse, display proof of proper training, marksmanship, understanding of local/state/federal law, understand which situations call for use of both deadly and non-deadly force, and the ability to handle a firearm safely.

    Many choose to undergo additional training such as close quarters self defense, advanced marksmanship, legal courses, and other forms of education which minimize the possibility of unlawfully using their weapon in public or causing collateral damage to other people and property.

    For those that think that anyone who carries a gun is a dangerous short fused idiot that is incapable of being educated, non-violent, or a positive contributing member of society, I urge you to check out the success stories on YouTube or any other non-politically motivated website or outlet. Afterall, an armed society is a polite society.

    Thank goodness for the 2nd Amendment, and those that choose to uphold American ideals as their responsibility too.

    May God Bless America, the right to choose and believe what is morally righteous, and the ability to agree to disagree even with the uneducated and ignorant.

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