Women make up half of those taking concealed-carry handgun classes in Grand County
Rich and Marge Dowell teach a Colorado Concealed Carry class that allows participants to apply for the permit to carry a concealed handgun. They are both NRA-certified pistol safety instructors.
“We saw a need for the class in Granby,” said Marge. And, they saw a steady stream of women who were interested in taking the class, for various reasons. Not only do students learn about gun safety, they learn self-defense.
“We prepare you so you don’t end up in a bad situation,” said Rich. “But if you are, we will give you skills to defend yourself; and hopefully you won’t have to use your gun.”
The class entails eight hours of instruction; the first four hours are classroom training, and the final four are on the shooting range.
Many of the women who take the class do so because their boyfriends or husbands have the permit and they want it too, said Dowell. As part of the class, the Dowell’s teach how to be comfortable holding and shooting a gun, but also for women, how to hold your purse.
Popular with women
In Kremmling, Bob Dillon teaches the certified class on his property at 4 Bar D. His class is also popular with women.
“Women are easier to teach,” he said. “They don’t have bad habits and didn’t grow up thinking they are John Wayne.” Plus, women out-shoot men, he said.
This year women comprise over half his class, with their husband or boyfriend, or single women, he said. He recommends coming to his class before purchasing a gun.
“Come to the class and use my firearms first, try out different kinds, and find out what fits your hand. I teach how a gun fits in your hand and what type of gun is best.”
This class enables men and women to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon but, according to Dillon, it will also build confidence.
“You will believe you can survive an armed encounter with a bad guy.”
He has been teaching police officers for 30 years and believes that the more confidence you have in your abilities, the less likely you will get in a shooting situation.
“Women don’t want to be a victim, and I teach this in the class,” he said. “For example, you have a fire extinguisher to use just in case, but if you need it, your really need it. Same with guns.”
He also believes that when women carry the gun in their purse, they are more aware of their surroundings; another aspect he teaches in the class.
Every time the number of people who are carrying a handgun increases, incidents of violent crime go down, he said.
“The bad guys don’t know who is carrying. Bad guys are like coyotes – they look for the weakness. When there is knowledge of women carrying, criminals don’t know who is carrying protection.”
Where restrictive gun-carrying laws prevail, such as in Washington, D.C., violent crime rates are higher, said Dillon.
“Go into Virginia, there is 97 percent less violent crimes because they have a concealed carry permit use.”
It’s not paranoia, it’s being prepared, he said. Dillon is a 36-year police veteran.
Traci Brammer of Tabernash took the class from Dillon because it sounded fun. After taking the class she felt empowered.
“I felt more knowledgeable and was more aware of my surroundings,” Brammer said. “I am confident that I could do something if attacked.”
She will carry if she is on a solo hike or ski.
“One point that stuck with me is that Bob trained officers. He told us that he would tell them, ‘you want these people to have guns, they will be on your side.'”
She took the training, had the background check, received her permit and bought a gun. It is a two- to three-week process.
Brammer has an 8-year-old daughter, and she and her husband teach her about gun safety. Her daughter knows there are guns in the house and they are off limits.
Dillon incorporates real-life situations into the class, like moving around to shoot, and running to a cone like you’re running from someone.
Nancy Anderson of Granby wanted more experience with a handgun and to get more comfortable handling a gun. She has a background in hunting and using rifles, but not a smaller guns.
Anderson took Dillon’s class but as of yet hasn’t applied for a permit.
“I like shooting as a sport, and have spent more time on the range, and enjoy target shooting.”
Prior to the class she bought a gun but discovered in the class that the grip was too big. “You need to decide between a gun with a magazine versus a revolver,” she said. “I decided on a revolver.”
She will go out to the range to practice once a month; however, the Byers Canyon Shooting Range is closed until spring.
“It’s free to shoot there and it’s on a first come, first served basis. The only expense is ammunition.”
She will generally shoot about 50 rounds when she is at the range.
Susan Stone, a Grand County resident, took a concealed weapon training class in Aurora. She took it because she inherited her grandmother’s gun and wanted to learn how to use it, but also because her family history showed that it was a good idea to have one.
“My grandfather worked for railroad, and my grandmother was often alone. She had a gun to protect herself, and her children. It’s a small revolver.”
This was the gun she inherited, and while she wanted to learn to shoot the gun, the chamber was worn down and it was recommended to be used only as decoration.
Applications decline in Grand
In 2011 there were seven new applications in the county for permits to carry a concealed weapon, according to Rod Johnson, Grand County sheriff. The number is down from 14 in 2010, and from 142 in 2009.
The numbers started going up four years ago, according to Johnson. Permits are good for five years.
There were six renewals in 2009 and 98 renewals in 2010. There were 78 renewals in 2011.
About 500 residents hold carry-conceal permits in Grand County, Johnson said.
Proposed legislation in Colorado would make it unnecessary for people have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. “Sheriffs across the state don’t agree on the proposal,” Johnson said. “As an association we don’t have a stand on it.”
In 2011 a bill died in the Senate that would have allowed optional concealed-carry permits in Colorado. Last week, the same bill died in a Senate vote but identical legislation is pending in the House.
Four states allow concealed-carry without a permit: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming.
Under Colorado law, concealed handgun permit holders may carry everywhere except:
• In public schools
• In buildings that have security devices/guards intended to prevent weapons from entering
• In the Colorado Capitol or at any hearing of the Colorado Legislature
• Colorado permit holders may carry in 28 other states including Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming (Source: Colorado Bureau of Investigation, whose website contains a list of states offering reciprocity)
• Federal law prohibits weapons in federal offices and courthouses
You may carry a loaded, concealed handgun in a vehicle in Colorado without a permit. It is, however, illegal to carry a loaded hunting weapon in a vehicle while hunting.
Homes and businesses
It is legal to possess a loaded, concealed weapon in a home or place of business.
Alcohol and drugs
It is unlawful to possess a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
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Deputy Steve Hines of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office has been named as a DUI Enforcement Hero by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Colorado.