The draft legislation creating scores of new "sensitive places" in Colorado that we discussed on Tuesday's Cam & Co has officially been released, and while the version that was introduced contains some minor tweaks, there are still major problems with the proposal.
The biggest change to SB-24-131 from what had been circulating in draft form is the removal of language that would put an end to armed school staff across the state. That's good news for the districts that already have this policy in place, though we could still see that language reinserted as an amendment or even a standalone bill. But the legislation also added two additional "gun-free zones" that weren't included in the draft that had been circulating; a ban on lawful concealed carry in bars as well as in "marijuana hospitality businesses".
I confess that I'm not familiar with that phrase, but based on this guidance from the city of Denver it looks like that prohibition would apply to businesses where marijuana can be consumed on the premises, but where no retail sales take place.
Those restrictions fall outside of the historical tradition of firearm ownership, according to several federal judges (including the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals), who've found that while laws forbidding the possession of firearms while intoxicated were common enough in the 18th and 19th centuries, laws forbidding gun ownership for those who use intoxicants or possession where intoxicants may be present are extraordinarily rare in the time period the Supreme Court says is applicable when looking for historic analogues to modern gun restrictions.
Of course, those aren't the only problematic portions of the bill. The vast majority of the proposed "gun-free zones" have no basis in the history or tradition of our right to keep and bear arms either.
- Public parks and playgrounds
- Community and recreational centers
- Property where a public gathering is taking place (as well as adjacent streets and sidewalks)
- Hospitals and healthcare facilities
- Banks and other financial institutions
- Houses of worship
- Stadiums and arenas when sporting events are taking place
- Amusement parks, aquariums, museums, zoos, carnivals, and fairs
- Homeless shelters
- Daycares and pre-schools
- Public and private universities, colleges, and community colleges
- Buildings and adjacent grounds of all state and local government-owned property
- Any location where a state or local government meeting is being held
Essentially, the only difference between the bill introduced in Colorado and the "carry killer" bills in New York and California is the lack of the so-called vampire rule, which automatically bars concealed carry on all private property without the express consent of the property owner. But the bill is still the biggest infringement on the right to bear arms that we've seen in a state that wasn't "may issue" before the Bruen decision was handed down, and would make broad swathes of publicly accessible places off limits to concealed carry holders for the first time since Colorado adopted their right-to-carry law in 2003.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. There's no need to wait for that hearing to take place for the estimated 15 percent of Colorado residents with an active carry license to contact their senators and representatives and demand they reject this regressive move that inhibits and infringes on the right to self-defense. Violent crime in Colorado has only grown worse as the Democrats in control of the state legislature have imposed numerous gun control laws over the past decade, and this measure would make it nearly impossible for lawful citizens to protect themselves from the state's emboldened criminal element... at least without engaging in an act of civil disobedience.
Oddly, while the bill as written makes many public places off-limits to concealed carry, the punishment for violating the law is almost non-existent; an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $250 fine for a first offense and a $1,000 fine for subsequent violations. Violent criminals intent on doing harm aren't going to be dissuaded by a "No Guns Allowed" sign anyway, but given the relatively toothless nature of the enforcement aspect of SB-24-131, my guess is many concealed carry holders would rather run the risk of a fine than be left defenseless as they go about their daily routine and many sheriffs in the state wouldn't make enforcement of these new "sensitive places" a priority.
Still, no one should be subjected to a fine or arrest for exercising a constitutionally-protected right, and the minor consequences for violating the proposed law doesn't make it any less of an egregious infringement of the Second Amendment or any more acceptable to gun owners. The capitol switchboard needs to be melting down from the volume of calls from righteously outraged residents, and every lawmaker in Denver needs to hear from their constituents that voting for this monstrosity guarantees they'll be voting to oust them from their elected office at the next opportunity.