New Colo. law strikes all-online firearm training
DENVER – In an age where you can buy a car or get a college degree without ever leaving the house, Colorado lawmakers have made one thing impossible to obtain from comfort of the couch: A concealed weapon permit.
A new law requires people to show a firearm instructor in person that they can safely handle a gun before they get a permit, seeking to close what lawmakers say is an Internet-era loophole they didn’t envision 10 years ago.
“There was no thought of anyone going and sitting in front of a computer and doing the whole course online,” said Democratic Sen. Lois Tochtrop, a sponsor of the new law, and one of the legislators who voted in favor of Colorado’s concealed-carry law in 2003.
Most states require proof of training to carry a concealed weapon. Instructors teach basics like how to load and unload a gun, how to hold it and fire it and ways to store it properly. Only a few states allow people to complete a concealed-carry training course entirely online.
Some Colorado lawmakers were astonished at the ease with which people could get a concealed-carry training certificate. Democratic Rep. Jenise May, who sponsored the bill with Tochtrop, said one of her staffers found a course online and got a certificate in less than an hour after answering eight questions and skipping a training video.
Colorado was one of the few states to pass gun legislation this year, despite national outrage over mass shootings and President Barack Obama’s failed attempts to get federal gun laws through Congress. Laws to provide for universal background checks and limits on ammunition magazines made it through the state Legislature with no Republican support.
The change in training rules got a handful of Republican votes, although most in the state GOP rejected the idea of scrapping all-online training permits.
“We allow people to obtain full, four-year college degrees online. Why wouldn’t you be allowed to obtain the training for a concealed carry weapons permit completely online?” said Republican Sen. Greg Brophy.
The importance of in-person gun training is debated.
Those who offer the all-online courses insist their teachings are rigorous, and say they’re filling a market need of the digital age by allowing people to complete a class quicker and cheaper than before.
Eric Korn, the president and CEO of Virginia-based American Firearms Training, said he started offering online handgun training in Colorado about two years ago, and his company also offers training in other states where all-online permits are allowed – Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa, Missouri and Virginia.
He said the online courses are just as effective. His company’s training includes six videos and more than 100 exam questions, and is much cheaper than in-person training: $50 once you pass the course to get the certificate, free if you don’t pass. In-person training courses can cost three times as much.