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Cryo Chamber

Concealed gun permits soar in Mesa County and state

Karen hadn’t needed a handgun in 30 years.

That was back when the Fruita bookkeeper, rx now 66, pill worked alongside prisoners, buy riding back and forth daily from various hospitals in California as a deputy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“I think everybody is a little more respectful when there’s a gun around, you know what I mean?” said Karen, who did not want her last name published.

Spurred earlier this year by what she called rumors of new restrictions looming from Washington, D.C., she bought a new .22-caliber handgun and surfed the Internet for local firearms safety classes.

Her new concealed weapons permit recently arrived in the mail.

“It’s not just a right, but a responsibility to train and know how to use it,” said Karen, who lives alone and keeps her gun in her purse. “You don’t just get a (CWP) because you can.”

While surveys suggest Mesa County residents feel safe in their neighborhoods, they’ve also armed themselves with concealed guns at a rate that has increased fourfold over five years.

In line with state and nationwide trends, yearly 2009 totals through Sept. 23 for concealed weapon permit applications to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department stood at a record 1,033, according to department figures.

Of those, 873 permits had been approved or were awaiting a decision.

Colorado is on a pace to shatter last year’s record of 20,998 applications, the highest since the Legislature in 2004 set statewide standards for concealed handguns and put county sheriffs in charge of issuing permits.

Through June, the state’s sheriffs reported 16,000 applications filed.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we had another 20,000 in the last six months,” said Don Christensen, executive director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado.

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