Colorado officials processed more background checks for concealed carry permits in 2021 than any other year on record.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI) released statistics from the state’s InstaCheck system this month. They show 74,454 background checks have been run as of November for individuals seeking a concealed handgun permit (CHP). That sets the all-time record for CHP applications even though December’s numbers have not yet been included.
The data in Colorado tracks with a broader increase in Americans obtaining concealed carry permits over the past year. An October report from the conservative-leaning Crime Prevention Research Center found approximately 2 million people across the country became concealed carry permit holders in 2021, a single-year record. That happened despite five states removing permit requirements for concealed carry during the same period.
The data also shows concealed carry is more popular than ever in Colorado, despite the state tightening regulations on the carry of firearms. Earlier this year, the legislature passed a law allowing local governments to prohibit lawfully permitted carry in their respective jurisdictions. Thus far, though, only one local government has attempted to ban concealed carry before ultimately backing down in the face of public outcry.
Of the 74,454 background checks submitted, 73,956 were approved as eligible to receive a permit, while another 308 required further investigation to determine eligibility. That means roughly 11 percent of the state’s 663,165 approved permit holders received their permit this year alone.
April 2021 saw the highest amount of background checks for CHPs (8,004) since the single-month record (14,076) in July 2013. That’s the same month the state’s magazine capacity restriction and a host of additional gun control laws went into effect.
Colorado is a “shall-issue” state, meaning that an applicant must be issued a permit if they meet all the statutory requirements. However, the issuing agency is granted some discretion if it reasonably believes that the applicant may be a danger to themselves or others. Thus far, 190 applicants have been denied a concealed carry permit statewide in 2021, according to the November CBI data.
Despite reaching record levels of concealed carry applications, firearm sales across the state still significantly trail the record set in 2020 based on approved background check data. However, sales are on track to be the second-highest on record in the state, mirroring trends seen in nationwide firearm sales.