After judge ices local gun laws, Boulder County lashes out with gun show ban

(AP Photo/Yakima Herald-Republic, TJ Mullinax, File)

Earlier this week U.S. District Court Judge Charlotte Sweeney (appointed to the bench by Joe Biden just last year) granted a temporary restraining order blocking Boulder County, Colorado’s new ban on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines from being enforced while a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new ordinances proceeds. While county officials say they’ll abide by the court order, commissioners continue to thumb their nose at law-abiding gun owners and Second Amendment supporters, and on Thursday night the Boulder County Commission approved a brand new ordinance aimed at chilling the exercise of the right to keep and bear arms: a ban on gun shows at the local fairgrounds.

The move with little comment from the commissioners and no comment from the public during the public hearing. The gun show ban was part of an update of the fairgrounds manual which also removed the 3.2 limit for alcoholic beverages and made minor changes to camping rules.

The fairgrounds manual now says: “Boulder County will not lease any portion of the Fairgrounds to any person or entity for gun shows.”

Commission chair Mara Loachamin and vice chair Claire Levy voted 2-0 for the manual update. Commissioner Matt Jones was absent.

Loachamin said before she voted that the updates on the fairgrounds manual were “timely.” She added the county is now undergoing a major renovation of the fairgrounds facilities, which are located in Longmont.

Given the lack of debate, I’m curious as to how many residents in Boulder County were even aware that the proposed changes to the fairgrounds manual included a ban on gun shows. Now that the ban is in place, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the county sued once again for once again trying to infringe on the Second (and perhaps the First) Amendment rights of residents.

We’ve seen similar efforts in California, for instance, where Democrats in the state legislature have repeatedly targeted gun shows on state property. Earlier this year Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 264 into law; a measure that doesn’t ban gun shows but prohibits the sale of firearms and ammunition on the property of the Orange County Fairgrounds. Not long afterwards a coalition of plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation, California Rifle & Pistol Association, and the Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds.

At the gun show, Plaintiffs associate with like-minded people, participate in public discussions, attend informational forums, distribute and collect information, provide training, make offers for sale, make offers to buy, and engage in legal and political discussions related to the Second Amendment, which are all forms of speech protected by the First Amendment. Discussions include, but are not limited to, firearms and ammunition, firearm technology, firearm safety, and firearm law and politics. Participants also exchange information about where to hunt and where to practice shooting, where and from whom to receive training, gunsmithing, gun repair, gun art, and many other topics that arise from the right to acquire, own, possess, enjoy, and celebrate arms as a quintessentially American artifact with constitutional significance.

Defendants are government actors who, through the adoption and enforcement of Senate Bill 264 (Min), codified at California Penal Code section 27575, 1 which prohibits the sale of firearms, ammunition, and “firearm precursor parts” at the Fairgrounds with the intention and effect of shuttering gun show events altogether, have engaged in and will continue to engage in action that violates Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to free speech, assembly, and equal protection. Their actions also constitute prior restraint.

With the exception of citing California law, it seems to me this same argument could be used against the new ban on gun shows at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. Just like California counterparts, Coloradans don’t just visit gun shows to purchase firearms and ammunition but to exercise their First Amendment rights to advocate for their right to keep and bear arms, learn from experts in a variety of fields from self-defense to hunting, and to simply enjoy being around their fellow gun owners.

All that will come to a screeching halt if Boulder County’s gun show ban remains in effect, so here’s hoping that it won’t be long before a federal judge has the opportunity to consider the constitutionality of the new ordinance and hopefully put it on ice along with the county’s ban on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines.