EDGEWATER — Home to just more than 5,000 people, this suburban Jefferson County town bordered by Denver to the east, Lakewood to the south and west, and Wheat Ridge to the north, is looking to limit Second Amendment rights like no city before in Colorado.
Although Denver has long banned open carry and recently announced its intent to look at banning concealed carry in public spaces including parks and city buildings, Edgewater has a laundry list of items targeting gun owners coming up for discussion that far exceeds anything seen to date.
On April 5th, the city council heard a presentation on gun violence prevention from Colorado Ceasefire, an anti-gun rights organization, and subsequently decided to move forward with a more detailed discussion on possible municipal ordinances. Such local gun rights restrictions would be allowed under Senate Bill 21- 256, passed during last year’s legislative session and signed into law by Governor Polis, which unwound decades of state preemption and allows local governments to manage their own gun laws, but only so long as they are more restrictive than those at the state level, a condition that has been referred to as a “bastardization of the concept of local control.”
Sweeping gun rights restrictions
According to an Edgewater City Council agenda for the April 19th meeting, the following will be considered for passage:
- Prohibiting open carry city-wide.
- Prohibiting concealed carry in city-owned buildings and areas, including:
- Civic Center and city parks.
- Prohibiting conceal carry in other areas and buildings in Edgewater, including:
- Bars and liquor stores.
- Daycare centers and preschools.
- Medical facilities, including hospitals.
- Mental Health Care facilities and substance abuse treatment facilities
- Event venues, theaters, etc.
- Banning specific weapons, including:
- So-called “assault weapons” (which includes commonly owned semi-automatic rifles).
- Large capacity magazines.
- So-called “ghost guns” (guns made by individuals from parts, but which lack serial numbers).
- Trigger activators such as bump stocks.
- Certain ammunition, such as 50-caliber, or armor piercing.
- Purchase and transfer of weapons, including:
- Setting a minimum age of 21 for all weapons and establishing a waiting period of 3-10 days.
- Regulating gun dealers with such things as (but not all inclusive):
- Extensive on-site security including video surveillance, steel bars, locked up firearms, behind counter storage of all guns, among other things.
- Prohibiting the display of firearms and ammunition in windows.
- Increasing standards for all employees.
- Periodic inventory reporting.
- Required reporting of certain sales.
- Required signage on gun violence issues.
- Prohibiting retail in residential neighborhoods.
The presentation will include comments from Tom Mauser, father of a Columbine High School shooting victim and current board member of Colorado Ceasefire, which was started after the Columbine shooting and Ellen McCarron, Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action board president.
Among justifications in the presentation are claims that the majority of Americans support reasonable gun restrictions and that there are no easy solutions, but that doing nothing will not solve the problem.
Concealed carry permit holders ‘exceptionally law-abiding’
But according to David Kopel, research director at the Denver-based Independence Institute* and professor of advanced constitutional law at the University of Denver, concealed carry permit holders–who are heavily targeted in the potential Edgewater ordinances—are exceptionally law-abiding.
“According to FBI data in the annually published Crime in the United States, about 5 percent of the Colorado adult population is arrested each year,” says Kopel. “In contrast, the figure for concealed handgun permit holders is only 1/10th of 1 percent. Permit holders are vastly more law-abiding than the general population.”
Kopel continues that obtaining a concealed carry permit requires hundreds of dollars in fees and expenses for the required training, as well as long waits for appointments for a fingerprint-based background check. “The only people who bother are those who are so concerned about legal compliance that they spend significant resources just to obtain a card from the government allowing them to legally do what they could done anyway for free, and with very low risk of being caught,” continued Kopel. “It’s no wonder that Colorado’s concealed carry permitees are 50 times more law-abiding than the general population.”
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, who is a vocal, statewide advocate for Second Amendment rights said the restrictions Edgewater is considering are neither reasonable nor will they solve any problem. Reams has continually spoke out against SB21-256 calling it a “trampling on the Constitution.”
“Gun restrictions have not fixed the problem,” Reams said. “It was a huge overreach by the state. Restrictions on the Constitution are never taken lightly (by Democrats) until it comes to the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is different than any other freedom for them.”
According to Colorado Ceasefire, concealed carry permits are up the past three years in Colorado from 257,166 in 2019 to 297,003 in 2021.
Reams said from a law enforcement perspective, he doesn’t see how such patchwork laws could be enforced, adding keeping up with state laws are complicated enough already without adding another layer.
“I can’t imagine how you would even go about it,” Reams said, questioning whether current owners of banned guns would be grandfathered in. “How do you prove you did not already own it? If I’m driving through town going from point A to point B, and I get pulled over for a speeding ticket, am I going to lose my guns?”
Reams said municipal laws are normally specific to property issues, not gun rights.
“They are setting themselves up for a huge court battle,” Reams said. “I guess we’re finally about to see if the legislation is constitutional, but it will come at the expense of Edgewater residents.”
The item will be discussed Tuesday during the city council regular business meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at 1800 Harlan St., Edgewater.
*Independence Institute is the publisher of Complete Colorado.
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