Crime across the country has skyrocketed and Colorado is no exception. Murder, violent crime, and aggravated assault have all reached a 30 year high in the state. Car theft is at levels never seen before and Colorado is breaking glass ceilings in this category.
And do you know what the Democrats who hold a hyper-partisan majority down at the Colorado State Capitol are doing to fix it? You guessed it! They are going to ban open carry of a firearm near polling places and ballot drop boxes!
What? You didn’t guess THAT?! Silly you.
Want the Tl;dr version? Scroll to the bottom for details of the bill.
These graphs provide a quick snapshot of just how bad things are here based on both FBI and CBI data from 1960-2021. Because CBI data is Colorado specific, the FBI stats will always lag behind slightly, catching up later.
HB22-1086 covertly titled the “Vote Without Fear Act” is one of the most worthless pieces of gun control I’ve ever seen introduced – and they’ve introduced a lot of worthless garbage. But I find it’s introduction here and now, with the violent crime rate so out of control, to be especially despicable. It certainly shows exactly how detached these gun control extremist legislators are from the reality citizens of Colorado are facing – and open carrying firearms near polling locations is non-issue in Colorado. The most you might encounter such an incident is in a rural area pulling up to a ballot drop box and there is someone there dropping of their ballot with a handgun on their hip. That person drops their ballot in the box, returns to their car, and drives away. Sources tell us this example is actually the “complaint” that led to this bill.
Just last year Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SIX pieces of gun control legislation including mandatory safe storage, mandatory reporting of lost and stolen guns, even more extended background checks prohibiting those with violent and some non-violent misdemeanors from purchasing or possessing a gun, the creation of an Office of Gun Violence, a repeal and replace of Colorado’s preemption law now allowing localities to create their own firearm laws, and yet another piece of paper those with restraining orders have to submit to the court. In 2019 Colorado passed a very poorly crafted Red Flag law. And in 2013 Colorado came under national scrutiny as they passed universal background checks, prohibition on mags over 15 rounds, and a background check fee for those purchasing a firearm.
Yet here we are. None of these laws have done anything to curb the violence. And banning open carry near polling places and ballot drop boxes won’t either. But it will turn some innocent people into criminals, possibly even jailing them.
So, what does this bill do?
The “Vote Without Fear Act” would prohibit a person from openly carrying a firearm within any polling location or central count facility, or within 100 feet of a ballot drop box or any building in which a polling location or central count facility is located, during an active election cycle. A violation of this law would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine, up to 364 days imprisonment in the county jail, or both. Exceptions are written into this law for those who are the legal owner of private property within 100 feet, as well as on-duty peace officers.
At first glance, and even to a lot of gun owners, this bill sounds pretty benign. Most people don’t open carry, let alone to go vote. But some do – whether it be due to preference, a personal economic barrier to obtaining a concealed carry permit, or delays. During the height of the pandemic it was taking months to obtain a concealed carry permit.
Basic constitutional rights aside there some other glaring issues at hand.
During the 2020 election, Colorado had 368 ballot drop boxes across Colorado with plans to increase that number in 2022. Many of these drop boxes are adjacent to private property whether a home or business, and certainly less than 100 feet. This is especially common in rural areas where you may see a drop box on the sidewalk within ten or so feet of a cafe. A cafe where anyone open carrying will now be inadvertently violating a law that could put them in county jail for one day shy of a year and carry a hefty fine.
Will this law require signage around the drop boxes identifying the 100 foot line to help ensure innocent people aren’t caught up in this do-nothing-but-create-criminals law? Of course not.
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