Concealed Craig: Residents train in handguns
Editors note: This report was edited to reflect handguns must be inside a fully enclosed, locked vehicle and inside a separate, closed container when the vehicle is on the grounds of a public K-12 school.
One of Colorado’s most experienced firearms instructors was on hand over the weekend to help a select few Craig residents better understand the awesome responsibility of carrying a concealed handgun.
Though it will ultimately be at the pleasure of Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume or the sheriff in their county of residence to officially grant their concealed handgun permits, about 30 showed up Friday, April 26 for Adam Winch’s five-hour course.
Winch’s company, Defenders USA, travels the state of Colorado teaching residents a comprehensive concealed handgun course. According to their website, Winch has plenty of experience to do just that.
“As a police officer for ten-plus years with the Grand Junction Police Department, Adam’s duties included patrol officer, street crimes unit, SWAT, and police patrol mountain bike instructor,” Defenders USA’s website said.
Though Colorado is an open-carry state — meaning gun owners can openly carry certain firearms without a license as long as those firearms aren’t concealed — Winch taught residents the legal framework surrounding concealed carry.
“We come to a concealed carry license class because we want to conceal,” Winch said.
Winch took attendees on a deep dive into Colorado’s use of force laws. He said crimes against property have different use of force laws than crimes against persons.
“We never shoot people over stuff,” Winch said.
Legally using a firearm in public for deadly force against another person in Colorado requires a person experience reasonable, articulable and understandable fear that serious bodily injury or death could be or is happening to you or a third party, Winch said. Even when all these legal requirements for a justified shooting are present, each individual case is subject to the ‘reasonable man test’ — and possibly a jury deciding your fate.
“You can get everything legally, morally, and ethically right and still go to prison,” Winch said.
Having fear alone isn’t enough by law to use deadly force with firearms in public, according to Winch.
“It’s not just the component of fear – it’s all these things put together,” Winch said.
Ryan Fritz is a Craig Police Department school resource officer at Moffat County High School with some 20 years of law enforcement experience. He attended the class and offered attendees the opportunity to buy his custom, handmade leather holsters, which are highly concealable beneath one’s belt line. Fritz said Winch’s classes are for those looking for in-depth training beyond the typical concealed carry class.
“Adam’s classes stretch me every time — best training I’ve ever had,” Fritz said.
Winch also spoke about reciprocity of concealed carry laws across states. He said there are currently 35 states that recognize Colorado’s concealed handgun permit — meaning handgun owners can conceal their handguns when crossing through or visiting.
Winch said medical marijuana card holders can’t have a concealed handgun permit.
Winch pointed out it’s important to know many things when carrying a handgun legally in Colorado — like where one can and can’t conceal a handgun or carry one openly, to know Colorado is a “no duty to inform” state meaning concealed handgun permit holders don’t have to notify police of their handgun during a traffic stop, to know it is unlawful to carry inside a public K-12 school but not some public universities, and to know it is unlawful to openly carry in certain cities in Colorado — namely Manitou Springs, Pueblo, Castle Rock and Denver.
Winch exposed lots of gun myths he said gun owners fall for — like a vehicle is an extension of one’s home for the purposes of having a gun in the car. Though there’s a high expectation of privacy in Colorado when it comes to guns inside vehicles in public and state residents don’t need a concealed carry permit to carry their handguns in a vehicle, if the vehicle is parked on the grounds of a public K-12 school, the handgun must be in a fully enclosed and locked car and in a separate, closed container — such as a glove box, a center console or a zippable container like a purse. This goes for any vehicle with wheels and a motor.
“It’s not an extension of your home,” Winch said of handguns inside vehicles.
Winch spent a good deal of time discussing deadly use of force in one’s home — laws known in Colorado as the “make my day” law — whose threshold for a legal shooting is lower than when in a public place.
Winch said there must be three elements present to legally use deadly force with a firearm in one’s own home — there must be an uninvited entry or a guest becomes uninvited, you believe any crime could or is happening within the home, and you believe force can happen or is happening to you or a third party. Colorado law describes force under the state’s make my day law as force “no matter how slight.”
There’s also limited civil liability in Colorado when a legal shooting occurs inside one’s home.
“I beg it never happens to you,” Winch said. “But it is slightly to your benefit in the state of Colorado if you shoot them in your home.”
Travis Vasquez sat in the front row of Friday’s class and said he told his aging mother some of the common myths described by Winch — myths he learned from another area firearms instructor.
“This class was nothing like that,” Vasquez said of his previous class.
Now he plans to take back what he learned and pass correct self defense information to his mother.
“This is stuff I can take to my mom,” Vasquez said.
Basic handgun function and safety was last on Friday night, so Winch showed off the parts and pieces of the handgun and some basic proper range etiquette — like keeping one’s finger off the trigger and equidistant between the slide and frame and not on the trigger guard.
“Keep your bugger-pickin’ digit off the bang switch until you’re on target and ready to shoot,” Winch said.
Though much of the class concentrated on using deadly force with a firearm, Winch became stoic as he described the horror of having to shoot and kill someone.
“You don’t ever want to shoot people. You’ll never be the same…,” Winch said. “It’s a deep scar to you. At the same time, you must survive.”
Winch was sure to encourage every gun owner to undergo realistic defense training with their firearm as not a single shot was fired in Friday’s class.
“I beg you. Don’t stop here,” Winch said. “Go get realistic training.”
According to 2018’s annual report for the Colorado General Assembly, there were 141 total applications for concealed handgun permits, 47 new applications, 94 renewals, and four denials in Moffat County.
A concealed handgun permit application at the Moffat County Sheriff costs $152.50 — $52.50 for the federal and state background checks and $100 fee to the sheriff’s office, Hume said.
While denials are rare, Hume said the four in 2018 were due to criminal records.
“These were arrest records,” Hume said of the four denials last year. “Their criminal histories prevented them from possessing firearms.”