Aug. 3—Boulder County has joined a number of its neighboring agencies and municipalities in enacting a set of ordinances intended to address gun violence.
The ordinances approved unanimously by the Boulder County Commissioners on Tuesday include a ban on the sale, transfer and purchase of assault weapons as well as a 21-year age restriction and a waiting period for purchasing a firearm.
Another ordinance bans the possession of “ghost guns,” or those classified as unserialized and untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home.
Further, the commissioners approved an ordinance placing restrictions on carrying firearms, both open and concealed, in public buildings and “sensitive public areas” such as courthouses, hospitals and parks.
This prohibition includes Boulder County-managed open space land, though there is an exception for those with written permission from the county, including for those selected through an annual lottery to hunt at Red Hill or the Ron Stewart Preserve.
The new age restriction also would not prohibit young people from hunting with older family members or friends, county staff confirmed. It prohibits purchase, not possession.
The perspectives shared in Tuesday’s public hearing ran the gamut, with some of the approximately 30 speakers in support of all five ordinances, some in full opposition and others still recommending amendments or suggesting the commissioners approve a select few of the five proposals.
A number of supporters shared their personal experiences with gun violence, including the impact of the March 2021 King Soopers shooting, in which a gunman killed 10 people at the south Boulder grocery store.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in this country,” said Kathy Hagen, of Erie. “Not only does gun violence lead to deaths, it also leads to trauma. A lot of trauma.”
Opponents, on the other hand, were particularly concerned about the county limiting concealed carry. Many said the ordinances infringe upon the Second Amendment rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Generally, Allenspark resident Edward Yagi said he supports the idea of gun control but did not feel similarly about the ordinances the county commissioners ultimately approved.
“You are engaged in nothing more than symbolism and virtue signaling,” he said. “Gun violence is the most complicated and intractable problem in America, against which a county law is a joke at best.”
Nearly two weeks ago, a U.S. District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the town of Superior from enforcing its recently enacted ordinance against certain types of assault weapons.
Other opponents said the county can expect to face similar legal action upon passage.
“If you pass these ordinances, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners will add you to the list of places we are suing over this,” Kevin Lorusso with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners said. “It has already been established that we will win.”
However, Commissioner Claire Levy noted that Superior prohibits the possession of assault weapons, while the county is instead prohibiting the sale, transfer and purchase of such firearms.
It’s an effort meant to reduce the saturation of a type of weapon that is “designed to cause as much damage and death as possible in the shortest amount of time,” Levy noted.
And either way, Commissioner Matt Jones said it’s for a judge to decide.
“I don’t subscribe to the theory of more guns make us safer,” he said.
Boulder County is not the first local jurisdiction to pass ordinances that aim to reduce gun violence. Earlier this summer, Boulder, Louisville and Superior all approved similar measures.
The step taken by Boulder County is just one way to address the impact of gun violence.
“Strong policy is just one part of the puzzle that we need to solve on gun violence and gun violence prevention,” Boulder resident Haley Brown said, adding that education also is important.
As the county’s nearly three-hour hearing came to a close, Commissioner Marta Loachamin pushed back on the idea that the ordinances approved Tuesday were in any way rushed or simply symbolic.
Personally, Loachamin said she has hoped to somehow impact gun violence since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. But locally, elected officials around the region have been meeting since the King Soopers shooting to discuss what can be done, she said.
“This has been over a year after passage of Colorado state law that allows local jurisdictions to respond to gun violence to create laws and regulations that will protect our residents and citizens and constituents,” Loachamin said.
Ultimately, the county commissioners said they felt they had to take action.
“We have to do our part,” Levy said.