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El Paso Sheriff not following Governor's guidance for issuing temporary concealed carry permits

No new permits being processed; Renewals still accepted
EPSO Building
Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 21:01:02-04

EL PASO COUNTY — Gov. Jared Polis issued executive orders earlier this month, encouraging law enforcement agencies statewide to continue processing new application for concealed carry permits.

However, News 5 Investigates has found the El Paso County Sheriff's Office isn't following that guidance.

Elder at podium

Sheriff Bill Elder has been vocal in the past about supporting people's gun rights but when we tried to find out more information about why he made the decision to stop issuing new concealed carry permits, his office was not eager to answer our questions.

"The El Paso County Sheriff's Office determined that they didn't want to provide that service any longer," Dustin Hannan said.

Hannon relocated to El Paso County from Douglas County and has completed his CHP class---allowing him to apply for a permit to carry and concealed firearm.

Dustin

He reached out to News 5 Investigates after learning the sheriff's office isn't accepting new applications for concealed carry permits right now.

"That seemed like a slap in the face to me as a citizen," he said.

On April 6, Gov. Polis issued executive orders suspending in-person requirements to process concealed carry permits.

Instead, he encourages law enforcement agencies to consider issuing temporary concealed permits for 90 days during the Coronavirus pandemic. You can read his full executive order here.

Polis orders

"Considering the Governor made it very easy for them to process this, the Sheriff (still) said no, he's not going to do it at this time," Hannan said. "I really do feel from a civil liberty perspective that this is violating our civil rights."

We did our research and checked in with a few other agencies.

The Pueblo County and Douglas County Sheriff's Office are following the the directives from Gov. Polis. The Denver Police Department is too.

All are accepting new concealed (90 day) permit applications from citizens.

"I don't want to put myself in the spotlight and I don't want to cause any frustration with the sheriff," Hannan said.

Hannan says he just wants answers.

Media Relations Manager Jacqueline Kirby confirmed to News 5 that they are not accommodating (processing) temporary permit applications.

Kirby response

She cited "reduced staffing" and a "backlog" of applications prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.

News 5 asked for clarification on potential furloughs within the sheriff's office along with back log data as part of our research and fact-checking processes.

Kirby did not release the information we requested and instead, asked that we file an open records request. As of the publication of this article and news broadcast, that request has not yet been fulfilled.

However, permit application statistics we requested from other agencies were released free of charge without a records request.

Douglas County Statistics:

Total applications received since April 6, 2020: 83
Total approved: 77
Total pending: 6

Denver Statistics:

Total applications received since April 6, 2020: 32
Total "under review": 27

Hannan wonders if other agencies are able to issue temporary new concealed carry permits during the Coronavirus pandemic, why can't Sheriff Elder do the same?

"Just simply follow the Governor's orders," Hannan said. "Implement a process."

In the course of our research, we also discovered that Teller County---which falls within the same 4th Judicial District, is not processing new CHP permits right now either.

However, both counties are accepting paperwork for renewals.