Denver mayor wants to ban concealed carry in parks

Seth Perlman

Gun control activists scored one of their most significant legislative victories in years in Colorado in 2021, when the state legislature repealed the firearms preemption law that had been in place for decades. As a result, localities across the state are free to impose their own gun laws that are more restrictive than state statutes, and now Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is hoping to use that new latitude to ban concealed carry licensees from lawfully carrying in Denver parks and all municipal property.

The proposed ordinance is likely to sail through the Democratic-dominated city council, but at least some folks are voicing their objections to the plan, including the editorial board of the Denver Gazette.

If there is one slice of the population that is least likely to commit a gun crime, it is those explicitly permitted — and officially vetted — to carry a gun. They also are in the best position to dissuade a criminal in the absence of law officers.

Meanwhile, the Hancock administration couldn’t have picked a worse time to crack down on the lawful majority’s right to arms. Violent crimes and property crimes have been soaring. Making matters worse, the legislature passed another law last year that makes it almost impossible to charge convicted felons with felony possession of a firearm. The new law has tied cops’ hands.

Bottom line: More bad guys get to prowl our streets with guns. Law-abiding Denverites who try to defend themselves face up to a $50 fine and up to $999 and 300 days in jail for a subsequent offense. How’s that for justice reform?

How bad are things in Denver right now? Well, the number of homicides is the highest in more than 40 years, though the start of the increase dates back to 2014… coincidentally (or not) the year after the state enacted its first new gun control restrictions in decades by approving a ban on “large capacity” magazines and imposing universal background check requirements on all gun sales. Despite those supposedly valuable restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, Colorado’s violent criminals seem strangely immune to the laws’ effects.

Denver police analysis shows that 15 of those killed in homicides last year were gang members or affiliated with gangs, as were 17 homicide suspects. Three of the suspects and one of the victims were minors.

Thirty-two of the suspects were on probation, parole or pre-trial release, according to Denver police data. Pazen said that number was concerning and that Colorado needs to examine whether pre-trial, probation and parole agencies have enough resources to effectively monitor their clients and deter them from criminal activity.

“We as a state need to figure out what’s working and what’s not working,” Pazen said. “If we have more than 30 individuals that are continuing criminal behavior — including homicide — and they are on some form of supervision, then what is happening?”

The data also shows that 15 homicide victims were experiencing homelessness. Eight suspects were experiencing homelessness, including a man charged with stabbing a Denver Rescue Mission worker.

I’ve found no evidence that any homicide suspect in Denver arrested last year had a valid concealed carry license, yet legal gun owners are Mayor Hancock’s chief target. You don’t have to be an ardent 2A activist to understand that going after law-abiding citizens and their right to self-defense rather than cracking down on repeat, violent offenders is an absolutely idiotic way to fight crime, but I suspect that the city council in Denver will be more than happy to follow the mayor’s lead and impose the carry ban with little debate and dissension.

As proposed, the local ordinance would only come with a $50 fine for a first offense, but my guess is that many gun owners will simply choose to avoid city parks and other municipal areas as much as possible. As for what criminals will do once those parks are declared “gun free zones,” don’t be surprised if the number of assaults and other violent crimes actually increases once the ban is in place. In fact, I’d say that as long as the existing power structure in Denver views legal gun owners as a bigger threat than violent criminals, we shouldn’t be shocked to see the city’s crime rates continue to trend in the wrong direction. We have years of evidence demonstrating that Colorado’s gun control laws aren’t stopping criminals, but the state also has a dominant political party far more interested in creating crimes out of our right to keep and bear arms than in removing violent criminals from the population at large.