Boulder, Colorado officials endorse local gun ban and more

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

What local gun laws would anti-gun activists like to impose if they had the chance? We’re getting a peek at one wish list in Boulder, Colorado, where city council members have given the thumbs up to a sweeping package of local gun control ordinances that the City Attorney has been working on since last year, when the state removed the firearms preemption law that had been in place for decades and allowed localities to begin imposing their own gun control measures that are more restrictive than state law.

That move was partly in response to the shooting a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder last year that took place a few weeks after the city’s ban on so-called assault weapons had been struck down by a state court as a violation of the firearm preemption laws, and yes, a brand new gun ban is part of the package that got a green light from an overwhelming number of city council members last week.

In its Tuesday study session, the City Council offered direction on a legislation package that, if approved in a future public hearing, would do everything from prohibiting open carry and carrying in sensitive areas to requiring a 10-day waiting period after the initiation of a background check for a licensed firearms dealer to deliver a firearm to a purchaser.

Prohibitions on open carry and carrying in sensitive areas, which include city buildings, public parks and playgrounds, hospitals and more, all would have exceptions such as for law enforcement, the armed forces on official duty and security guards.

The city also is looking to reinstate its ban on assault weapons, large-capacity magazines — those holding more than 10 rounds — and trigger activators, also known as bump stocks, which allow a gun to fire faster.

… In addition to the aforementioned measures, the city also would raise the legal age of purchase to 21 and ban guns that have not been identified with a serial number by a federal licensee. While the city already prohibits people from purchasing guns until they’re 21, it intends to repeal its current ordinance and rework it to avoid preemption.

Additionally, the city has proposed a measure requiring firearms dealers to post a sign with a warning about access to firearms increasing the risk of suicide, death during domestic violence disputes and unintentional deaths.

The one cause for concern among council members was a proposal that’s designed to block gun stores from operating in the city by requiring them to obtain a city-issued law enforcement permit and a land use permit before they can open for business. And even then, the council didn’t direct the City Attorney to drop the idea, just to look into the feasibility.

If only they’d do the same for the rest of their ideas, none of which are going to have any impact on violent criminals; particularly those who have the murderous intent on killing as many random strangers as they can. Making it harder for gun stores to do business in the town, for instance, isn’t going to stop anybody from buying a gun, though it might cause gun stores to flee the city for a more 2A-friendly location.

Councilmember Junie Joseph was curious to know more about how the legislation, particularly the regulatory piece the Council ultimately decided to wait on, might be enforced.

“I’m just not sold on the enforcement mechanism,” she said.

This was a question when the original assault weapons ban was adopted as well. Officials indicated it would be challenging to enforce.

Ultimately, though, the City Council supported the majority of the proposal from the City Attorney’s Office.

“We really look forward to seeing these come to fruition as a major step for us to protect our community and certainly as we look to the year anniversary from which we lost 10 incredible people in our community,” Councilmember Matt Benjamin said.

The City Council greenlighted the work but did not specify a timeline, City Attorney Teresa Tate confirmed. Originally, there was some discussion about holding a special meeting March 22 to commemorate the anniversary of the King Soopers shooting by adopting legislation the city hopes will prevent gun violence.

Tate said the City Attorney’s Office did not expect to have the work complete by that time.

If you needed any more evidence that Boulder’s gun control package is about “doing something” rather than doing something that works, there you go. Trying to tie this package into a special hearing on the anniversary of the shooting is as blatant an example of politicizing a tragedy as you can get, and I’m sure that these council members will have some sort of public “listening session” to try to capitalize on the emotional resonance of the anniversary despite the City Attorney’s inability to meet the council’s self-imposed deadline.

It’s also why the council member who expressed reservations about the enforceability of these proposed gun laws didn’t find a lot of allies on the council. I’m sure the vast majority of Boulder’s elected officials would like to live in a gun-free city, but I don’t think most of them really care if these laws are enforced or not. They’re law makers, after all, and once the law is on the books they can tell the voters “I did something” and pass the responsibility for how and when the law is enforced on to law enforcement.

If these laws fail to reduce violent crime (as they will), the city council can simply proclaim they didn’t go far enough, and they just need another round of local restrictions that should do the trick. As long as gun control is a winning issue (and in far-left Boulder, it’s likely to be that way for the foreseeable future), the city’s politicians have no reason to change course, no matter how obvious the failure becomes to the rest of us. Violent crime has soared in Colorado since the state instituted universal background checks and a ban on 15+ round magazines in 2013, but that’s only spurred the Democratic-led majority in the state legislature to impose new restrictions, including last year’s repeal of the state’s preemption law.

Why should the Democrat-majority city council in Boulder behave any differently than the Democrat-controlled state House and Senate when it comes to the politics of gun control? And as long as they can convince voters that they’re doing something to boost public safety instead of their own political prospects, why would they ever change their tune?