GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Gun Control continues to be a highly debated topic throughout the state. Even concealed handgun permit laws that have been in effect since 2003 are being questioned.
The state gives the basic guidelines for a concealed carry permit, including restrictions on age and criminal history and says anyone applying for a permit must have handgun training, but the specifics aren't spelled out.
"The concealed weapon law has in it a requirement for training," said Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, "where it becomes a little vague is what exactly that training should be."
When it comes to being licensed to carry a concealed weapon, the training varies, and without strict regulations, most anything goes, from a three-hour online course to hours of hands-on training.
"The class I teach, for example, is an NRA basic pistol class," said firearms instructor Clair Swartzentruber. "It's eight to ten hours long. It includes about two hours of live fire practice."
Some facilities bring students to the gun range to practice with live fire weapon training, but that is not required, and it's possible to get a permit without ever firing a weapon.
"Since the legislature has not defined specifically what they want in the training, it appears that they're comfortable with the least restrictive amount of training right now," said Sheriff Hilkey, "and that's what we're accepting."
The law says you have to have completed a handgun training class, which has to be taught by a certified instructur, but it doesn't specify what they have to go over.
"I love guns," said Clair. "I think everybody ought to be armed, but we need people to be safe with them too."
So it all boils down to the type of class an individual prefers.
"It becomes somebody's personal choice," said Sheriff Hilkey. "Do you want something that's thorough and comprehensive or do you want something that's quick and easy?"
Numerous handgun classes exist throughout Grand Junction and online, giving the community an opportunity to obtain a training certificate.
For more information about applying for a concealed handgun permit, visit the Mesa County Sheriff's Office website below.