Earlier this year gun control activists scored a major win in Colorado when the legislature voted to repeal the state’s firearm preemption law, which established a uniform body of gun laws across the state. Now localities are free to pass ordinances that are more restrictive than state law, and we’ve already started to see some communities look at imposing bans on modern sporting rifles and establishing “gun-free zones” in places where concealed carry is currently allowed.
In the Denver suburb of Jefferson County, the Foothills Parks and Recreation District is set to take up a ban on lawful carrying in all parks and facilities, despite the fact that there’ve been no issues with concealed carry holders in the past. As the website Complete Colorado reports, however, Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader says if the district moves forward with its ban, commissioners shouldn’t expect his office or deputies to help enforce the new restriction.
“I have substantial concern in taking action against an individual who is otherwise acting in a legal and proper manner,” Shrader said in part in the letter. “Such a resolution or rule “may only impose a civil penalty for a violation and require the person to leave the premises” (Shrader’s letter quoted from the bill). “The law is clear that for special districts, a violation is a civil offense and not a criminal offense; therefore, my office will not enforce a resolution or rule that would ban a lawfully permitted individual from carrying a concealed handgun on Foothills’ property. Rather, Foothills would be solely responsible for enforcement of a resolution or rule, if enacted.”
According to the sheriff’s office, since 2016 and through June of this year, Shrader has issued 19,000 concealed carry permits, and another 12,300 have been renewed. The average number of permits issued per year doubled during 2020 and is on pace to break that record this year.
The fact that the proposed ordinance makes carrying a gun in a “gun free zone” a civil offense just demonstrates that these types of policies are security theater. Is anyone with evil intentions going to turn back because they see a “No Guns Allowed” sign? Of course not. So what’s the point, exactly, other than to make some folks feel safer at the expense of others’ rights?
It seems to me like this gun ban is being proposed simply because the legislature gave the district the authority to do so, which is exactly why Second Amendment activists have fought so hard to put firearms preemption laws on the books in most states. To paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, these anti-gun politicians are so busy scheming of gun control ordinances that they can put on the books that they’re not thinking about whether they should try to impose these restrictions in the first place.
Sheriff Shrader should be applauded for his stance on the proposed gun ban, and I hope that other sheriffs across the state are ready and willing to do the same thing when political subdivisions in their jurisdiction unleash their own local gun control ordinances. We know that this isn’t the last local gun control effort we’ll see in Colorado, and hopefully this won’t be the last pushback from law enforcement either.