More opt for hidden firearms


Staff member
By Jose L. Medina Sun-News reporter
Article Launched: 09/30/2007 12:00:00 AM MDT

LAS CRUCES — More and more Doña Ana County residents are packing heat since lawmakers approved a concealed handgun carry law in 2003. The first licenses were issued in January 2004.

According to the latest figures from the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, 455 people in Doña Ana County have a license to carry a concealed handgun — well over three times as many as 2004 when 121 permits were granted.

That's not a revelation to Clyde Johnson, a Las Cruces resident and concealed-carry instructor.

"It's not surprising at all; people worry about their personal protection," Johnson said.

"I generate anywhere between five to 10 calls a month," he said, referring to inquiries about the required minimum 15-hour training course. "I do training for about 10 to 12 percent of those because a lot of people, the time doesn't work out for them or my class may be full, just different things like that."

The course is a mix of classroom and shooting range instruction.

Doña Ana County statistics indicate 373 men and 82 women have a license to carry a concealed handgun. A further breakdown shows the county demographic with the most permits are men ages 61 to 70 with 107 permits. The smallest group totals five permits issued to men age 81 and over.

For women, 29 permits were issued to those ages 51 to 60. Women with the fewest permits were ages 21 to 30 and 31 to 40, each group with seven permits each.

Doñald Stephenson, another Las Cruces concealed-carry instructor, said a number of his students have been college students.

"I've had a lot of college students that have gone through my course and they put it on their r/sum/s," Stephenson said. "... A lot of them are going for criminal justice (degrees), you put on your r/sum/ that you've been through basic pistol and personal protection ..., they know you can handle a handgun."

In Grant County, 231 residents have permits — 178 men and 53 women.

In Otero County, 227 men and 60 women have permits. In Sierra County 42 men and six women can carry a concealed handgun. All six women are ages 21 to 30.

The county with the most permits in the state also is the most populous.

Residents in Bernalillo County have been issued 2,046 permits — a big jump from what it was three years ago. In 2004 the number was 247. Mora County in the northern part of the state currently has eight permits, the fewest of all counties.

In all, more than 7,000 New Mexicans have a concealed handgun license. In 2004 there were only 1,217 permits statewide.

Johnson said those that want a permit are looking to prevent becoming a first time or a repeat victim of crime.

"You get a balance of both," he said. "Most of the people I've taught have not talked about being victimized. A lot of them are preventing it, making sure they don't become one of the statistics."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jose Medina can be reached at [email protected]

To view more information on New Mexico's concealed-carry law and statistics, click on the following links:
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Thanks, Lukem! I wondered how many of us in Dona Ana county had a license.

It is not, however, as many as I expected. Fortunately, our numbers are growing.

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