Concealed weapons permits on rise

Many Colorado residents obtaining permits from northeast prairie town


STRATTON, Colo. (AP) While some cities are allowing voters to cast their ballots by mail, Coloradans who want to pack a concealed weapon can get a permit by mail from this northeastern prairie town.
Officials in some other areas are unhappy that their residents can get permits from a town hundreds of miles away.
Several counties say interest in the permits has picked up considerably since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Stratton, a town of 600, had stopped issuing the permits after the practice was publicized. Now it is doing it again, by mail.
An answering machine tells applicants to mail in a request for an application.
"It rings and rings, but you do eventually get an address,'' said Nick Simon, a former gun dealer who lives in Westminster. He said he decided to apply to Stratton, rather than his hometown, because the permit would be good statewide.
Stratton Police Chief Brian Hill and City Council members who reinstated the open-to-all policy Sept. 13 have refused to discuss the issue. They have declined to say how much they are making off the applications.
City Attorney Wade Gately said the process is legal and critics should talk with state legislators about changing the law if they don't like it.
Larimer County officials said there have been considerably more applications since the attacks.
''They say they want to protect themselves in case the war comes here. We had one 70-year-old woman whose husband just died who said she wanted to feel safer,'' said Eloise Campenella, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.
In El Paso County, sheriff's Sgt. Jim Groth said they also were seeing more inquiries about permits.
In Montrose County, officials have received numerous requests for permit renewals since Sept. 11 and 25 applications for new permits.
''Mostly, it's older people over 50 whose permits have expired,'' said Rayleen Lang, head of records. ''They say they'll feel safer walking around because if it can happen in New York City, it can happen anywhere.''

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