After roughly a month of formalities, on Monday, May 16 the Denver City Council officially voted to ban permitted concealed carry of a firearm in parks and buildings owned by, leased by, and leased to the city.
The ordinance passed 9-3 with Councilmembers Candi CdeBaca, Jamie Torres, and Kevin Flynn voting against the ban.
A violation of the ban would result in a $50 fine for the first offense and a $999 fine for any subsequent offense. This is a bit laughable because the same city council voted not long ago to forgo collecting any fine of $300 or less due to equality concerns.
Thanks to the passage of SB21-256 last year which was a repeal and replace of the long standing state preemption law, localities can now create their own gun laws as long as they are more strict than state law. This includes counties, municipalities, special districts and college campuses.
This ban includes dozens of mountain parks in other counties that are owned by the City of Denver, including the infamous 868 acre Red Rocks Park in Jefferson County, 3000 acre Winter Park Resort in Grand County, 1000 acre Daniels Mountain Park in Douglas County, and 160 acre Summit Lake Park in Clear Creek County. Most of the other parks are located in Jefferson County where enforcement would be the responsibility of the sheriff who has already made it clear he will not enforce concealed carry bans even when passed into law by those who have jurisdiction over his county. See a map of all parks owned by Denver here.
During the council meeting, public comment on this particular agenda item was denied by council leadership stating “they had already allowed public comment during the first committee meeting”. That didn’t stop those wanting to speak about this ban from utilizing general public comment time to express their views. The majority of the speakers spoke in opposition to the ban citing the need for the right to self defense in the crime ridden city. Denver limits their general public comment time to 30 minutes, so it’s difficult to say how many people who wanted to speak were silenced.
An amendment was introduced by Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca that would have exempted parks from the ordinances. This amendment was rejected again on the same 9-3 vote. The amendment stated:
This amendment removes parks from the scope of this ordinance for several reasons:
First, there are major concerns about the ability to enforce in open space without profiling. Other cities have banned guns in city owned buildings because it is enforceable. Given the national and historical data about law enforcement’s racial bias in relation to pre-textual interactions, removing parks from this ordinance would reduce potential for law enforcement to racially profile people and use unwarranted force on “suspected” violators of this ordinance.
Second, if parks are not removed from this ordinance, Open Space including mountain park parking lots could become targets for car break-ins when firearms are left in vehicles. The amount of stolen guns from cars is increasing and the current ordinance would encourage CCW carriers to leave guns in cars.
Councilwoman CdeBaca pleaded with the council to reject this ban based on how law enforcement responds to reports of individuals with firearms, citing several instances where police had arrived with guns drawn based on “see something, say something” antics from bystanders. She ultimately told council they will “have blood on their hands” when this ban goes awry, which it will. CdeBaca said she fears the ban will not be enforceable without profiling, something that goes against everything the council has promised to change over the past two years. At a prior meeting CdeBaca had requested Denver Police Department present council with a written protocol of how they would handle reports that someone was possibly concealed carrying. This written protocol never materialized along with answers to many other questions that had previously been brought up.
Councilman Flynn reiterated again and again that there is no evidence that legally permitted concealed carry holders were a danger, but instead it was those who do not obey laws who are the real menace to the city and should be the focus of council, and more importantly, law enforcement who is already stretched so thin in a city where crime is skyrocketing. Councilman Flynn also echoed CdeBaca’s concerns about racial profiling and pointed to data provided by CBI that showed the fastest growing demographic among those applying for concealed carry permits are among the Black community.
In the past two years, the City of Denver has seen a startling increase in crime. They closed 2021 out with 96 homicides, the most in over 30 years, and 2022 is already poised to break that record. Not one of these crimes was committed by a concealed carry permit holder, although applications for concealed carry permits has been steadily rising as 911 callers are placed on hold during emergencies, police response times are dangerously slow with an average of 11.6 minutes in 2019, and the citywide efforts to defund the police have left many residents realizing they need to be prepared to defend themselves.
Additionally, auto thefts have risen by 5,100% in Colorado, according to the Colorado Independent Auto Dealers Association. And in the first three months of this year, the Denver Police Department said five catalytic converters are reported stolen on average each day.
And turns out Colorado is now #1 in the nation for bank robberies! Which elected officials blame on also being #1 for Fentanyl.
But the city’s solution to this is to disarm law abiding citizens?
Yes, apparently so. And when the disarmed law abiding become victims of people who don’t care about the city’s ineffective silly laws, that same council will use their still warm bodies to push for even more gun control.
It should be noted that open carry has long been illegal in Denver, as is concealed carry without a permit.
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