City leaders in Aspen, Colorado are set to approve a “symbolic gesture” banning guns from city hall and other municipal buildings this week, despite objections from residents of both Aspen and the surrounding area. The city council meets Tuesday, and is almost certain to approve the measure, even though they admit it will be impossible to enforce. Still, the council is “doing something” about gun control, and that virtue signaling is apparently all that matters.

City officials do not plan to install metal detectors or anything similar to know whether people are carrying guns into buildings; the law is simply a symbolic gesture more than anything else, elected officials have said.

There’s been a police officer stationed in council chambers during regular meetings for over a year, due to concerns from city staff and the public regarding specific individuals.

If there are genuine concerns about specific individuals, what the city should be doing is holding concealed carry classes for city employees and members of the city council. Instead, the council is taking the absurd step of publicly announcing that, while the city is banning firearms, there won’t be any type of screening whatsoever. This isn’t even offering up the illusion of security, only the delusion that declaring a place to be “gun free” makes it so.

If the ordinance passes, the city council may try to extend the ban to all city-owned parks as well as city-owned buildings.

“This [falls] along the lines of our general oath of office and duty to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.

“We emphasize and work on places for public gathering and public conversation, and public recreation, and there is really no reason for weapons to accomplish any of those things,” Richards said. “And the presence of weapons like that can really make a lot of people uncomfortable.”

In fact, at last month’s city council meeting, the sight of a woman with an openly-carried firearm nearly brought one councilman to tears.

“You are not above the Supreme Court and you are not above the law of the land,” she said, saying Aspen’s effort is silly.

Councilman Skippy Mesirow told that woman that when he saw her gun strapped to her leg, he couldn’t concentrate on anything else and he felt a wash of fear come over him.

“It was a complete shift of energy,” he said.

“I’m sorry that your concentration is so small,” she shot back. “My rights do not end where your fears begin.”

Why am I not surprised that a grown man named Skippy is all in favor of a symbolic gun ban instead of actual security or the ability to protect oneself and others? Is that overly judgmental of me? I mean, “Skip” is an okay name for an adult, but “Skippy The City Councilman” just sounds like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch.

Skippy and his fellow council members are probably going to approve the new gun-free zones at tomorrow’s city council meeting in Aspen. Whether they face a lawsuit soon after is an open question. The city claims it has every right to ban dangerous weapons from municipal buildings under state statute, but the state’s firearms preemption law is pretty clear:

A local government may not enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm that a person may lawfully sell, purchase, or possess under state or federal law. Any such ordinance, regulation, or other law enacted by a local government prior to March 18, 2003, is void and unenforceable.

Another section of the state statutes notes that cities can prohibit “the open carrying of a firearm in a building or specific area within the local government’s jurisdiction”, as long as the local government posts signs “at the public entrances to the building or specific area informing persons that the open carrying of firearms is prohibited in the building or specific area.”

Why would the state statutes note that cities could ban the open carrying of firearms but not the concealed carry of firearms in city-controlled buildings if places like Aspen could legally ban both under existing law? I know that Boulder, Colorado also has a ban on carrying firearms in municipal buildings, but that was put in place back in 2003, before the state’s firearms preemption statute took effect later that year, so it was allowed to remain in effect. I’m no expert on Colorado gun laws, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the issue isn’t quite as cut-and-dried as the supporters of the gun ban claim.

**Update** 

The Vail Daily reports the bill has been amended since it was first introduced last month and is no longer a blanket ban on firearms in municipal buildings. Apparently the city attorney must have read the state statutes, because now the ordinance has been amended to exempt licensed concealed carry holders from the ban. That puts it in compliance with state law, but it makes the ban even more usele.. I mean “symbolic” than it was to begin with.