Colorado Inches Closer to Creating New 'Gun-Free Zones'

House Democrats in Denver have advanced a bill creating several new "sensitive places" in Colorado, including all schools in the state; both K-12 and institutions of higher learning. The bill as originally written would have established "gun-free zones" in a wide variety of locations, including museums, parks, playgrounds, houses of worship, and libraries (to name just a few). While it's a positive that those locations have been removed from the bill, what remains is still problematic, and would be a big step backward for the state if it's signed into law. 


After lengthy debates, the House passed two gun-reform bills. One, Senate Bill 131, would prohibit people from taking firearms into the state Capitol and certain other government buildings or offices; onto school and university campuses; and to licensed child care facilities.

Senate Bill 3 directs more than $1 million to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to investigate illegal gun sales, plus nearly $400,000 more for other purposes.

Both bills previously passed the Senate but have undergone changes in the House, meaning their sponsors will now decide what to do with those changes before sending the measures to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk.

Republicans opposed both measures (as did a some moderate Democrats). They argued that the bill limiting where a gun could be carried would make those spaces less safe.

Rep. Jennifer Bacon, a Denver Democrat, countered that the violence should not be solved solely through more violence, and legislators said they feel unsafe because some Republican colleagues carry firearms. Earlier this month, Republican Rep. Don Wilson left a loaded gun in a Capitol bathroom. Last year, two firearms were stolen from Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg’s car outside of the Capitol. The year before that, Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf dropped his gun in a public area while running to vote.

Bacon's argument is absurd. First off, no one in the legislature (or in the Second Amendment community) is arguing that concealed carry is the only way to prevent a violent crime. But when an individual is targeted by carjackers, armed robbers, or homicidal maniacs, having a gun for self-defense is going to be a helluva lot more useful than hoping there's a violence interrupter hanging around close by. I'd argue that providing legal consequences for violent crimes is also a tried and true method of reducing those offenses, but the Democratic majority has been loathe to increase sentences this session. 


SB 131 would essentially repeal the campus carry law that's been in place for more than two decades, giving institutions of higher learning the ability to approve or deny individual concealed carry holders from lawfully bringing their guns onto campus. It would also ban lawful concealed carry in the state capitol, legislative buildings, and locally-owned government property where meetings are held and/or elected officials have offices. 

The bill also poses major challenges for concealed carry holders around elections. There's a provision in the legislation barring concealed carry within 100 feet of all polling locations and all drop boxes during any voting period, which in Colorado starts eight days before primary elections and fifteen days before general elections. The law requires signage to be posted alerting concealed carry holders of the ban, but it's going to be almost impossible for concealed carry holders to comply with the law. There are more than 700 polling locations and drop boxes around the state, and in cities like Denver it will be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid those locations for weeks on end. 

SB 131 still needs a concurrent vote in the state Senate before it can go to Gov. Jared Polis, and it's not the only gun control measure that's awaiting a vote in the upper chamber. The Senate is expected today to take up a mandatory liability insurance bill that's already won House approval, and a sweeping semi-auto ban is pending in a Senate committee. 


We'll be talking more about the doings at the Colorado state capitol on Wednesday's Bearing Arms Cam & Co with FASTER Colorado's Laura Carno, and I encourage you to tune in for the latest information tomorrow. The Californication of Colorado's gun laws is well underway, and though there's less than two weeks left in this year's session, that's plenty of time for the gun control lobby to do immeasurable damage to our Second Amendment rights. 

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