More Denverites got hidden gun permits in recent months than any time in the last five years

This is a graph story.

Instructor Anubis Heru works with Ikaika Hill inside 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club's new "virtual" range in Five Points. Oct. 17, 2020.

Instructor Anubis Heru works with Ikaika Hill inside 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club's new "virtual" range in Five Points. Oct. 17, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
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In August and September, Denver police data shows more city residents were issued permits to carry concealed guns than any month since January 2016.

Last week, we reported on a new Black-owned gun range in Five Points. Almost everyone we spoke to there told us the world just feels more volatile right now. More than ever, co-owner Wanda James told us, people are feeling a need to protect themselves and their families. She said intense political views have merged with visible gun ownership and, sometimes, violence. She said more people are arming themselves as a result, and it’s one reason she thinks the training offered at 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club is needed.

Kris Emery, owner of the ammo manufacturer Mountain City Supply in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, said Americans have been buying bullets in quantities he hasn’t seen in at least six years. As a result, he said, there’s a national shortage of primer material, the stuff that ignites when someone pulls a trigger. He’s been searching for suppliers overseas, in places like Croatia, to keep up with the demand.

We ran the numbers on gun data in Denver and across Colorado. Here’s what we found:

Denverites are being issued concealed carry permits in record numbers.

The Denver Police Department keeps the data on permits issued to residents. Here’s 2020:

201024-DENVER-GUN-CONCEAL-CARRY-PERMITS-SHORTVIEW
Source: Denver Police Department

Now, let’s pull back to see this through 2016:

201024-DENVER-GUN-CONCEAL-CARRY-PERMITS-LONGVIEW
Source: Denver Police Department

Month by month, August and September 2020 represent the most permits issued since January 2016. Still, the total numbers for 2020 do not represent a huge departure from previous years. While people have been arming themselves recently, a significant slowdown during the pandemic’s beginning has counteracted the annual total so far.

201024-DENVER-GUN-CONCEALED-CARRY-PERMITS-YTD
Source: Denver Police Department

The trends are less straightforward across Colorado.

Statewide, concealed carry permit approvals have not broken records in 2020. Instead, the data show regular upticks in election years, which James and Emery both said is typical.

201024-COLORADO-CONCEAL-CARRY-PERMITS
Source: Colorado Bureau of Investigation

That said, 2020 has seen more gun sales than any other time in the last five years. These numbers are based on approved background checks:

201024-COLORADO-GUN-SALES
Source: Colorado Bureau of Investigation

In May, CPR News reported that gun sales in Colorado have grown steadily since 2000.

According to their numbers, sales did peak during the Obama administration. Mass-shooting events like Sandy Hook raised the possibility that new gun control measures might pass, and that resulted in buying sprees. But overall levels, outside of those sprees, have continued to rise in the last 20 years.

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