Denver Suburb Could Opt Out of State's Latest Carry Ban

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Concealed carry is now banned in all government buildings in Colorado, thanks to a gun control law signed by Gov. Jared Polis earlier this year. But this particular ban comes with a catch; local governments can opt out of the prohibition if they choose, and as my colleague Tom Knighton has reported, several counties and towns across the state have already taken that step. 


It looks like we'll soon be able to add the Denver suburb of Aurora to the list of localities rejecting the state's newest "sensitive places"

Aurora councilmembers have begun to lay the groundwork to allow the city to opt out of a state law prohibiting firearms in so-called "sensitive spaces," notably including government buildings. 

Enacted this year, the Colorado law bans firearms in polling locations, schools, and government buildings, such as council chambers. The legislation contains a provision allowing local governments to opt out of the law. 

... The proposed Aurora ordinance, which Councilmember Curtis Gardner introduced, did not encounter any opposition during Monday's study session and will move forward to a vote at a regular council meeting.

That's a very good sign, though there could still be opposition when the ordinance comes up for a vote in the city council meeting. 

"The council believes that opting out of the state law prohibition will enhance public safety and the efficient operation of local government," the proposed ordinance states.

Gardner said it's a "local control issue."

 "I don't think it's the purview of the state legislature to decide how we should manage the safety and security of our building, that's up to us," he said on Monday night. "It's not any of their business how we manage our building."


I was surprised that the carry ban even had an option for local governments to opt out, honestly. After all, it was just a few years ago that lawmakers in Denver repealed the state's firearm preemption law and allowed these same localities to impose gun control measures more restrictive that what's found in state statute. 

What changed? Well, beyond Denver, Boulder, and a few smaller towns, there weren't many political subdivisions that adopted more restrictive laws (and those that did found themselves quickly embroiled in litigation). Repealing the firearm preemption law was a big priority for the gun control lobby, but it wasn't a pressing issue for most voters, much less their city council members and county commissioners. 

This year, the anti-gunners weren't nearly as successful. Oh sure, Polis signed multiple gun control bills into law, but the gun control lobby was unsuccessful in their push for a state-level "assault weapons" ban, and even the "sensitive places" bill that he signed was watered down as it made its way through the legislature. Originally the measure would have prohibited lawful concealed carry in almost two dozen locations, from public parks to houses of worship. Most of those provisions were stripped out of the legislation before the bill hit the House floor amidst concerns that the law would be vulnerable to a Supreme Court challenge. 


I think there was also concern among Democrats that a sweeping carry ban would spark a voter backlash this fall. While Colorado is a pretty safe blue state, polls have shown Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden by anywhere from six to ten points. In 2020, Biden won the state 55-42, so if the polls are close to accurate then there's been some serious erosion in support for Biden in Colorado over the past four years, and Democratic candidates are right to be worried about the drag that Biden will have on downticket races.  

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said Tuesday night he believes former President Donald Trump is on track to beat President Joe Biden this November — and that Trump could win in a “landslide” that ushers in Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

“I’m sure President Biden has a different view of his prospects in this election than I do. But we should be having a discussion about that,” Bennet told CNN. “And the White House in the time since that disastrous debate I think has done nothing to really demonstrate that they have a plan to win this election.”

Biden was struggling even before his disastrous and disturbing performance during the first presidential debate, so it was smart politics for Democrats to avoid enacting any major gun or carry bans during an election year. But by giving localities the ability to opt out of one of their "gun-free zones", they've also helped demonstrate how unpopular gun control continues to be in much of the state... and that should alarm Democratic candidates no matter who's at the top of the ticket come Election Day.  


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