BOULDER — The good news: City of Boulder ordinances are clear it will not infringe on residents’ First Amendment right to free speech or the right to peacefully assemble.
The bad news: The City of Boulder is in the process of writing ordinances that many believe will infringe on their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Boulder residents and surrounding supporters on Saturday will exercise their First Amendment rights in hopes they can persuade Boulder City Council members not to pick and choose what rights local government should support, the organizer for “Rally for our Rights” said.
Hundreds of people participating in the demonstration will gather from 1-3 p.m. along Broadway Street and Canyon Boulevard near Central Park in Boulder to demonstrate their support for the Second Amendment and opposition to a possible ban of semi-automatic weapons in the city limits.
Lesley Hollywood, one of the event’s organizers, said the irony of Boulder’s ways doesn’t escape her.
Her Facebook page, Rally for our Rights, is full of memes highlighting what she calls the hypocrisy in Boulder’s beliefs.
“Boulder wouldn’t put a minority on a watch list,” one post simply says. “Why would they put a gun owner on one.”
“Their community is supposedly all about tolerance and acceptance and understanding and learning to understand the different points of views,” she said. “That’s all fine and dandy and beautiful. I think their perfect little utopia is fine, but when you are going to single out a special class of people because they support the Second Amendment or own a firearm, the hypocrisy is just glaring.”
Hollywood, who owns her own media marketing firm, said the problem is people don’t take the time to learn about the type of weapon they are opposed to.
“They are very ignorant in understanding firearms in general,” she said. “One of the main features they are saying (will cause a type of gun to be banned) is the ability to stabilize it with your non- trigger hand. So basically, what they are saying is, ‘OK you can defend yourself, but just not with a firearm that allows you to stabilize it so you can have a better shot.’
The rally comes after the Boulder City Council voted 9-0 earlier this month on first reading of an ordinance to ban certain semi-automatic weapons and other firearms within city limits. The ban as written would require residents at minimum to pass a second round of background checks and then register their weapon with the Boulder Police Department.
The ordinance will be discussed and possibly modified to require residents turn over their weapons at a second reading on May 1. The council could also refer the measure to voters in November, an idea asked for by councilman Sam Weaver.
The council is taking public comment until that time, and residents can contact the Boulder City Council by email with their concerns.
Hollywood is expecting a larger crowd in Boulder than she saw for a similar rally she recently organized in Loveland. She’s had nearly 1,000 people contact her through social media to express interest.
The main difference she said between the Boulder rally and the Loveland rally, however, is Boulder’s willingness to cooperate. Unlike Loveland, where city officials attempted to stop the rally, Boulder ordinances outline their acceptance to non-permitted events.
Although the city would like a reservation for right-of-way demonstrations, it’s not mandated.
It is not “required nor intended to limit any advocacy groups from exercising their First Amendment right to free speech. Its sole purpose is to improve city support for and coordinate with advocacy groups,” the ordinance says.
A stark difference to how the city is reacting to the 226-year-old Second Amendment, Hollywood said.
Hollywood said she has spoken with the Boulder Police Department, which will be on hand to help make sure the event runs smoothly. She said they have told her they will not interfere and will only be there to help protect everyone’s rights, not to oppose them.
She said the overwhelming amount of support she and co-organizer, Boulder Resident Jason Boros, have received from Boulder businesses has been surprising. Some are staying behind the scenes, but others have jumped right into the fire.
Boulder Lending Group, which is located just across the street from Central Park, has offered its building as a staging area for people to create signs, get coffee and snacks and prepare for the event.
A University of Colorado Art Student has offered her skills to help make signs.
High School students from Boulder Valley School District are organizing a group to help with the demonstration.
And many have donated sign making materials, Hollywood said.
Hollywood is a civil rights activist who organized her first demonstration a decade ago when her First Amendment rights were being challenged. She said that this time she’s using those First Amendment rights to protect her Second Amendment rights. The idea she needs guidance on what kind of gun she should own is preposterous, she said.
“I can load more than a washing machine,” is what her sign will proudly display, she said.
“What pulled me out this time is this overreaching anti-gun sentiment across the country,” Hollywood said. “Being loud and being vocal and marching people into the streets, is very, very important to me because it’s important for people to know they are not alone in this. When we do this, politicians, legislators, city council members, they are going to realize they do have support behind them if they stand firm on their principle of protecting the Second Amendment.”
Hollywood added the importance of these rights in Colorado is more important now than ever.
“People need to understand the seriousness of this,” she said. “This is nothing Colorado has ever seen before. And this isn’t just ‘oh this is Boulder, what else do you expect? Just back off and let them do their crazy stuff. But once this passes in Boulder, it will spread like a cancer. It needs to be stopped.
“Boulder is acting like the leader in this. And then, once they’ve taken the lead, it’s really easy for everyone else.”
Hollywood said the more people that show up, the better. She said this is not an open carry protest, but there are no restrictions for those who want to open or conceal carry during the rally, except that anyone who chooses to carry must follow state laws.
She did stress that this is not a political event. She does not want other political messages. The purpose of the rally is the Second Amendment, and she wants to keep the focus on that.
“Please keep the Trump flags at home,” she said. “Don’t bring anything that is advocating for or attacking any political candidate, issue or ideology. This is only about the Second Amendment.”