FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- There's an increasing chance the guy sitting or standing next to you is carrying a concealed weapon.
Applications for concealed carry permits tripled in Larimer County in the last quarter of 2008, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Thursday it is having trouble keeping up with the workload due to so many new applications statewide.
CBI completed 18,725 background checks for people seeking concealed weapon permits in 2008. They took in 1,395 applications in December '08 compared to 797 in December of '07. A spokesperson said the CBI canít keep up at this pace for much longer with current staffing and budget constraints.
In Larimer County, applications jumped from 467 in 2007 to 1,025 in 2008. The majority of the 2008 applications came in October, November and December.
"The political power is moving to the left, and the power brokers are the radical left. And whenever you see that, people get concerned. Law abiding gun owners get concerned that their Second Amendment rights will be infringed upon," said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden.
Alderden said his office was processing about three to four applications a week before the November election. Now, they are processing an average of 35 a week. He cites studies that he said prove society benefits from concealed weapon permits.
"With the increase in permits, violent crime goes down. When I started to issue permits, there was all this talk that there would be 'blood in the streets'. That hasn't happened," said Alderden. Alderden said concealed carry permits enhance public safety.
Several men came in to fill out applications on Thursday.
"I wasn't happy with the outcome of the election," said one applicant.
At Front Range Gun Club in Loveland, owner Kevin Cooper said his membership only club is getting good business, despite a slow economy.
"I think there's some concern about gun rights," said Cooper.
Cooper is a retired Marine and now trains forces around the world on how to safely and effectively use firearms.
"What's nice is that nobody who's come through our doors has politicized the issue. They just say, 'Hey, I think it's time to do this,'" said Cooper.
Cooper's staff teaches concealed carry classes.
"You have to have a license to have a dog. Some people shouldn't have dogs. Some people shouldn't have guns," Cooper said.
You can't get a concealed carry permit in Colorado if you are a convicted felon or if you've been convicted of a domestic violence related offense. There are other restrictions as well. Fees vary from county to county, but typically run about $150.