EL PASO COUNTY – El Paso County is armed to the teeth; although, it might be more appropriate to say its residents are armed at the hip. The number of those carrying concealed handguns in our area continues to rise.
It will come as a surprise to nobody to find out that many folks round these parts, here in El Paso County, are well armed.
“El Paso county is the best armed county in the state of Colorado,” commented Robert Holmes, owner of the Whistling Pines Gun Club.
Just how armed is best armed, however, is a question requiring some research down at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Turns out that since 2013 the county has issued more than 24,000 concealed handgun permits, more than 32,000 renewals.
Currently, “As of this year in October” commented Natalie Sosa with the Sheriff’s Office,” The department has listed an active 47,107 permits.
That’s an increase of 2,000 over last year. That, the department says, is the most in the state.
Now, year by year numbers of newly issued permits vary with no clear trend or direction outside of gun policy talks or changes or national/local traumas.
“Mass shootings, or when you start to hear about people getting assaulted around town, the numbers do go up,” continued Holmes.
This year we’ve had barely more than 3,300 permits issued, but in 2016 there were 7,500 issued, and then the year before that there were only 5,100 new permits.
Renewal patterns, on the other hand, remain pretty easy to predict seeing as they have to happen every 5 years, give or take.
“From the time your concealed handgun license expires, you have 6 months,” stated Sosa.
So rewind 5 years and a few months ago. “2013 was huge,” said Holmes.
Changes in concealed carry policy and the then recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary prompted 12,000 renewals inside El Paso County.
“All of the sudden people realized,” said Holmes, “if something bad is going down, it would be really good to have a handgun to give myself a chance to defend myself.”
And now, 5 years after that surge of renewals, those thousands have come due. “That’s a big number,” Holmes continued.
Which means some pretty hefty CHP renewal related traffic. “We were expecting to have a busy year,” said Sosa.
So far 7,016 permits have been renewed, leaving 5,000 or so to go; a process that the county expects to stretch through March or so.
“Those numbers will not be reflected until next year’s numbers,” finished Sosa.
How much money will the county make from those 12,000 renewals?
Well at $53 a pop, the renewals will bring in $636,000. That’s money that will be sent to various places.
“Out of that amount,” stated Sosa, “$40 goes to the general fund for administrative functions and $13 goes to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for their administrative functions (fingerprints, background checks, etc).”