LITTLETON — A large special district in Jefferson County has decided against becoming one of the first entities in Colorado to test the limits of a new law allowing local governments to enact gun control laws within their jurisdiction.
Foothills Parks and Recreation District (FPRD) Executive Director Ronald Hopp told Complete Colorado on Monday that the board of directors had decided to indefinitely table discussion of banning concealed carry of firearms by lawfully permitted citizens in Foothills facilities and outdoor spaces.
Complete Colorado initially broke, and exclusively covered the developing story.
Hopp said there will not be an agenda item on the August meeting or “any other board meeting in the foreseeable future,” citing numerous comments from the public.
“The Foothills Park & Recreation District’s Board had discussed various options, including the possibility of new policies, in response to recent gun-related incidents in both our facilities and parks, at least one of which involved the mishandling of a properly permitted concealed firearm,” Hopp said in a statement.
The ink from Gov. Jared Polis’ pen on Senate Bill 21-256, allowing FPRD to ban all firearms, including concealed carry, from its facilities had only been dry for three days when FRPD staff brought up the idea at its board of directors meeting on June 22.
It was one of the many new gun control measures majority Democrats pushed through along party lines in the 2021 session.
For decades prior local governments were preempted from passing gun control laws, which were considered a matter of statewide interest and thus fell under the purview of the legislature.
Under SB-256, local governments, which include special taxing districts like FPRD, “can enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law governing or prohibiting the sale, purchase, transfer, or possession of a firearm, ammunition, or firearm component or accessory that is not less restrictive than state laws governing the sale, purchase, transfer, or possession of the firearm, ammunition, or firearm component or accessory.”
While proponents of the new law clam it is simply giving control to local governments to decide gun regulation as they see fit, the statute only allows for laws more restrictive than those at the state level, meaning a local legislative body couldn’t expand gun rights for residents or relax existing restrictions if that’s what they wanted to do.
In a recent Complete Colorado opinion piece, Denver resident Joshua Sharf called SB-256 “a bastardization of the concept of ‘local control.’”
Complete Colorado began covering the issue after a tip from a concerned Jefferson County resident who attended the initial June meeting.
Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader previously said he would not enforce such a ban because it only allowed for a civil violation, and because regardless of who is responsible for enforcement, he does not support restricting law-abiding citizens form a right to self-defense.
“SB 21-256, and subsequent resolutions or rules enacted from it, will only serve to confuse law abiding members of the public who travel through or visit various jurisdictions,” Shrader said. “Community members should not be prevented from protecting themselves and their families as they travel throughout different areas within our communities. I am, and always will be, a proponent of responsible gun ownership. I will continue to promote safe gun carrying practices and continuing education for our citizens who lawfully possess handguns. The role of the sheriff is to keep the peace and to protect individual liberties. It is imperative that our resources remain available for responding to allegations of criminal activity.”
Hopp said the board made the decision after numerous comments from the public at a July 27 meeting.
“The Board chose to indefinitely table any further discussions related to concealed carry gun policies,” Hopp said. “The Board received numerous comments from the public on both sides of the issue, and those comments were appreciated by the Board. “
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