My Concealed Carry Journey.

Gun rights and gun safety are not mutually exclusive.

Barrett is a concealed carry permit holder.

My opponent, Kevin Van Winkle, has sponsored legislation multiple times to allow concealed carry of firearms without a permit. No background checks. No safety training. When I decided to run to represent Highlands Ranch in the legislature, that was one of the many reasons why I felt we deserve better representation.

Kevin is a slave to the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), a group so far afield of the mainstream that they’re waging a war against Republican state representative Cole Wist for even daring to work on gun safety issues. Rep. Wist co-sponsored legislation to pass a Red Flag Law in Colorado that would have kept firearms out of the hands of people suffering from a severe mental health episode. The law had bipartisan support, endorsements from law enforcement, and a “NO” vote from my opponent, Kevin.

[Side note: also working to unseat Cole Wist is one of the best candidates for the legislature I’ve ever met: Tom Sullivan]

But I did not want to preach a better gun policy than Kevin’s without understanding where he, and others, might be coming from first. So I resolved to obtain my concealed carry permit.

My Gun Safety Background

I grew up around guns. I’m not afraid of them. I’m not repulsed by them. My father is an avid sports shooter and member of the NRA. My brother is a gun enthusiast. Both are Republicans. All three of us are Eagle Scouts and had the opportunity to learn marksmanship and gun safety from an early age.

When I talk to them about gun safety, even though we approach the issue from two different political perspectives, we always seem to agree on the way forward: universal background checks, reasonable magazine capacity limits, a Red Flag law, mental health interventions, and other common sense measures.

So how could it be that Democrats and Republicans are perceived to be so far apart on gun issues?

I first purchased a firearm when I lived in a less-than-reputable part of Greeley, Colorado (while attending college) and wanted to make sure I could defend myself and my home. Reasonable people have different conclusions than that one about their own safety and circumstances. Some want no firearms, others want to open carry pistols for all to see, and others want to conceal their weapons.

But Kevin Van Winkle calls a concealed carry permit a “coat tax.” What he means by that is that law-abiding citizens have to pay a “tax” simply to wear a coat over their gun. It’s a good tagline if you’re speaking to a crowd of fringe gun rights extremists. It’s a pretty stupid statement if you’re trying to protect neighborhoods, schools, law enforcement officers, and human life.

The “coat tax” Kevin’s describing is, admittedly, a $152.50 fee for your concealed carry permit… but the permit is valid for 5 years. So you pay $30.50/year or $2.54/ month to have a concealed carry permit. I pay about $20/month for my TV streaming services… making Hulu and Netflix together over 7 times more expensive than my concealed carry permit.

I don’t think that’s too high a price to pay to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people and add a layer of protection for our law enforcement officers, schools, and neighborhoods.

My Concealed Carry Journey

This post is not a lengthy diary of the concealed carry permitting process… because getting a concealed carry permit is pretty easy.

Potential permit holders in Colorado must do two things: 1) attend a concealed carry class and 2) submit paperwork to your local sheriff. I found a class about a 10-minute drive from my house at the Lone Tree Cabela’s. I registered for it in less time than it took me to drive there and then waited about a week for the class to actually be held. The entire class is 4 hours long and gives you an overview of concealed carry law, gun safety, and self-defense.

My class was taught by a very professional instructor from Utah who is employed by a company called My Legal Heat. The company sends instructors all over the country to teach concealed carry and gun safety. My instructor was, shall we say, not a Democrat. But he was everything I needed him to be.

After the class I waited a few days to go to the Highlands Ranch Sheriff Substation to turn in my class certificate, background check paperwork, and be fingerprinted and photographed. I also paid my “coat tax” using my credit card at that time.

Then you wait about 3-4 weeks, the sheriff calls you, and you go pick up your permit. End-to-end the process took just over a month and about 6 hours.

In exchange, I now have the privilege to carry a concealed weapon not just in Colorado but in dozens of other states that recognize our concealed carry permit. Law enforcement officers were able to screen me and determine I was not a danger to myself and others. And our community can rest just a little easier knowing we’re doing what we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Draw your own conclusions…

I’m running against a state legislator that would allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without even a modicum of safety training and no background check or input from law enforcement.

That’s extreme. Even the most conservative states in the Union require a permit.

Kevin Van Winkle is too dangerous for Highlands Ranch.

As an alternative, you can vote for a Democrat that seeks to understand the other side of a issue by taking the time to get a concealed carry permit. You can elect someone that sees common sense gun safety as something that upholds our Constitution and our values.

This election you have a choice between someone in the pocket of the extremist-wing of the gun lobby or a man who believes gun rights and gun safety are not mutually exclusive.

Barrett Rothe