2021 Leg Session, Civil Liberties, Featured, Jefferson County, Littleton, Original Report, Sherrie Peif

Foothills claims three gun-related incidents over 10 years; none appear to justify concealed carry ban

UPDATE — This story has been changed to reflect a story from CBS4 from 2011 corroborating that SWAT was called to the scene of a disturbance at the Edge Ice Arena.

LITTLETON — Despite just three incidents involving guns in at least the last 10 years —none of which appear to relate to permitted concealed carry—the Foothills Parks and Recreation District (FPRD) is poised to take up a concealed carry ban on all of its facilities at its regular meeting in August.

FPRD Executive Director Ronald Hopp confirmed to Complete Colorado previously that the board has asked its staff to bring forward such a ban to a future meeting.

“Given the new legislation that was approved by the governor and the legislature … they asked to have an agenda item to consider adding concealed carry to (already existing bans on open carry),” Hopp said.

Hopp is referring to Senate Bill 21-256, one of the many new gun control measures majority Democrats pushed through along party lines in the 2021 session, which allows local governments, including special taxing districts like FPRD, to enact gun control regulations, including a ban on concealed carry by lawfully permitted citizens, so long as the rules are more restrictive than those at the state level.

FPRB facilities cover a big swath of Jefferson County including three recreation centers, one 2-sheet ice arena, four indoor and four outdoor swimming pools and two indoor sports facilities, 68 park sites totaling more than 2,400 acres and including: four regional parks, 43 community and neighborhood parks, 21 greenbelts and two golf courses (totaling 54 holes). Additionally, Foothills manages six regional trail corridors totaling 14.9 miles for public use, and nearly 18 miles park trails.

No concealed carry violations

Complete Colorado has learned that charges were brought in two of the three incidents. However, in all three incidents, there were no concealed carry violations.

Hopp told Complete Colorado the incidents included one at the Edge Ice Arena that Hopp said occurred 8-10 years ago and involved a “person who showed up with a gun allegedly to attack his wife,” Hopp said. “The whole campus was locked down for several hours and the SWAT team entered all of our buildings to secure them.”

A story that appeared on CBS 4 at the time confirmed Hopp’s statements, adding that reverse 911 calls were sent to residents within a one-half mile radius of the facility.

An open records request by Complete Colorado to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office produced a different result. According to a police report, on July 7, 2011, around 2 p.m., a man was seen outside the arena was alleged to be armed with a handgun. Two officers were dispatched to the site. Police parked their cars to block the entrance to the parking lot. They were later told the suspect was carrying a rifle. Officers left the scene three hours later, but the report does not support the allegations that officers entered the building and/or locked it down. The suspect was found and arrested two hours later. There is also no indication in the police report that at any time SWAT was ever dispatched.  According to the report, the entire incident took place outside the facility. The man was charged with kidnapping.

A second incident occurred in February of 2021 in which Hopp said a concealed carry permit holder left a gun in the stall of the men’s public restroom at one of the facilities.

“The impetus for the conversation and deliberation about the policy was the CCW permit holder leaving his gun in a public bathroom where children and adults entered and exited throughout the day and evening,” Hopp said.

However, there is no proof the owner of the gun was a concealed carry permit holder. According to Michael Teague, Director of Public Affairs for the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, there is no open case for the incident, and regardless, had anyone — concealed carry permit holder or otherwise — left a gun in the bathroom, there are no laws in Colorado that make that a criminal offense.

New laws require gun owners report lost or stolen weapons within five days, but the act of forgetting/leaving the gun would still not result in a crime.

Finally, in July of this year, Hopp said there was a shooting in Clement Park. That case, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, involved an 18-year-old and a juvenile, neither of which could hold a concealed carry permit due to their age.

Sheriff won’t enforce a ban

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader sent a letter to the board stating his office would not enforce such a ban.

“I have substantial concern in taking action against an individual who is otherwise acting in a legal and proper manner,” Shrader said in part in the letter. “Such a resolution or rule “may only impose a civil penalty for a violation and require the person to leave the premises” (Shrader’s letter quoted from the bill). “The law is clear that for special districts, a violation is a civil offense and not a criminal offense; therefore, my office will not enforce a resolution or rule that would ban a lawfully permitted individual from carrying a concealed handgun on Foothills’ property. Rather, Foothills would be solely responsible for enforcement of a resolution or rule, if enacted.”

According to the sheriff’s office, since 2016 and through June of this year, Shrader has issued 19,000 concealed carry permits, and another 12,300 have been renewed. The average number of permits issued per year doubled during 2020 and is on pace to break that record this year.

The board is expected to discuss banning conceal carry permit holders at its Aug. 24 meeting. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and more information on how to participate and give comment can be found on the district’s website.

TO CONTACT THE BOARD MEMBERS —

Bill Meyer, Chair
Ward 1
bmeyer@fhprd.org

Michael Bielkiewicz, First Vice Chair
Ward 2
mbielkiewicz@fhprd.org

Phillip Trimble, Second Vice Chair
Ward 5
ptrimble@fhprd.org

Tim James, Treasure
Ward 3
tjames@fhprd.org

Kyle Butman, Secretary
Ward 4
kbutman@fhprd.org

 

 

 

 

 

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