Aspen City Council Members Get An Earful After Proposing Gun Ban

Aspen, Colorado city council members heard from several irate citizens Monday night who were angered over an attempt to ban gun possession in city-owned buildings. The proposal, which was approved on a preliminary vote Monday evening, is a “symbolic gesture” that wouldn’t be enforced by metal detectors on increased security, according to council member Ward Hauenstein, who supports the measure.

“This is not a politically correct measure,” he said, adding it’s to protect the public and city staff, the latter of which are not allowed to carry weapons in their workplaces.

Hauenstein also said he doesn’t agree with open carry laws.

“I think open carry is stupid because you become the first target in an incident,” he said.

Let me get this straight. City employees feel unsafe and vulnerable, so the city council is going to pass a symbolic gun ban on the public carrying firearms inside of city buildings. That’s supposed to make employees feel better? It seems to me that the city should be moving in the opposite direction and allowing concealed carry holders to carry on the job at City Hall or in other city-owned buildings. That would provide real safety, not the illusion of security.

Just over a half dozen people spoke during public comment, telling council not to pass the new law, which elected officials passed on first reading.

“It seems to imply you know better than us,” said one woman who lives in Garfield County, calling council’s action “laughable.”

Another Garfield County resident told council she does not want to be disarmed in Aspen and it’s her Second Amendment right to carry a gun.

“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.”

That’s a great response, and frankly, Councilman Skippy should be embarrassed, and not just for nearly piddling himself at the sight of a woman legally carrying a firearm. He should be embarrassed to support this gun ban in Aspen, which is sure to draw a legal challenge if it gains final approval by the city council. Colorado has a firearms preemption law in place that prohibits municipalities from prohibiting the “sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm” that someone is legally allowed to sell, purchase, or possess. While the city might be able to regulate time, manner, and place of possession, it’s highly unlikely that a blanket ban would stand up to legal scrutiny, though the city of Boulder is claiming that “home rule” cities in the state have the ability to pass gun control regulations as a matter of “local and municipal concern” (and used that excuse to ban so-called “assault weapons”).

It doesn’t sound like any member of the public turned up to support the idea of banning guns in Aspen’s city buildings, but it also doesn’t sound like that will matter to the city council members who favor the ban. Expect the proposed law to pass, and a court case to follow.