EDGEWATER — The Edgewater City Council has significantly scaled back — at least for now — most of what it planned to consider in way of new gun rights restrictions being encouraged by an anti-gun advocacy group, after dozens of residents and others emailed and showed up at an April 19 work session to express their displeasure on possible ordinances targeting gun owners.
Edgewater is a metro-area home rule city of just over 5,000 people bordered by Denver to the east, Lakewood to the south and west, and Wheat Ridge to the north.
The potential ordinances that the council decided to continue discussion on were:
- Prohibiting open carry of guns city-wide.
- Prohibiting licensed concealed carry in city-owned buildings and parks.
- Prohibiting licensed conceal carry in daycare centers and preschools.
- Banning so-called “ghost guns,” a name given by anti-gun activists to guns made by individuals, but that do not have serial numbers.
- Setting a waiting period for buying a firearm of 3-10 days.
- Dealer regulations with an effective date grandfathering in Edgewater’s one gun dealer.
- Mandatory reporting requirement for lost or stolen guns, which is already covered under state law.
Although Denver has long banned open carry and recently announced its intent to look at banning conceal carry in public spaces including parks and city buildings, and other communities have put in place a patchwork of other restrictions, Edgewater’s initial laundry list of items, which appears to be a wish list put together by anti-gun rights advocates, far exceeded anything seen to date.
The crowd in the room and online for the April 19 meeting pushed back and were likely much of the reason some council members toned back their anti-gun rhetoric. The crowd was large enough that the mayor limited comments to two minutes per person, they are generally three minutes each.
The meeting was the second of what the mayor says will be multiple discussions on implementing gun rights restrictions at the local level.
A decidedly anti-gun tone
A Complete Colorado article bringing to light the city’s first meeting on April 5, as well as the gun rights restrictions up for consideration, seemed to upset some of the council members who made mention of “blog posts,” and back-pedaled on some of their remarks from that April 5 meeting.
Complete Colorado was the only news outlet to report on the matter.
Although Complete Colorado’s story never said the council was voting on anything, and all information was taken directly from the city’s website, City Councilman Casey Earp took time to make a “misinformation” claim.
“I think it’s early in the conversation,” Earp said. “I think it’s important to say to the group of folks here that this discussion is just a discussion at this point. I think there are (sic) some material put out there in the world that grossly misrepresented what got us to this point.
However, the tone of that first meeting was decidedly weighted towards pursuing significant gun rights restrictions, led by anti-gun Councilwoman Hannah Gay Keao, who took over for Mayor John Beltrone to lead the April 5 discussion. She started with an impassioned plea for more restrictions.
Gay Keao ran as a “gun sense candidate” supported by the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action, which Mother Jones calls the “NRA’s worst nightmare,” and was endorsed by the gun control activist organization Everytown for Gun Safety, which according to its website requires candidates to apply for endorsement and fill out a questionnaire detailing their views on guns and gun violence. It also requires a pledge that if elected the candidate “will govern with gun safety in mind.”
At that April 5 meeting, Colorado Ceasefire board member Tom Mauser, the father of a Columbine High School shooting victim, and Eileen McCarron, Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action board president gave a presentation to the council that included their version of the state of gun violence in Colorado, along with gun legislation passed at a state level over the past several years.
They also gave general list of ideas that would restrict gun access, ban certain weapons and ammunition, ban licensed concealed carry and increase requirements for dealers. The presentation is one the anti-gun activists have give in many communities since the passage of Senate Bill 21-256, which allows municipalities and other local governments to enact their own gun laws, but only if they are more stringent than those at the state level.
There was no presentation from any group who might have a different perspective to balance the discussion.
Gay Keao set the tone on April 5 as how the city planned to move forward. She asked the city attorney to compile a more detailed list of things they could ban or restrict to have further conversation around, and although Earp asked for a citizen committee to hear all perspectives, it was shot down by Gay Keao, saying the gun control measures are a single moment in time issue, not an ongoing issue that she felt needed citizens committee input.
No one other than Colorado Ceasefire’s McCarron was invited to the April 19 meeting to advise the council on what the various potential ordinances should look like, again without hearing from the other side.
The only other expert mentioned throughout the meeting was Everytown for Gun Safety, another anti-gun organization.
“I know there is recent data from Everytown that came out and basically said stronger gun laws do make safer communities and reduce gun violence,” Gay Keao said. “That is statistically significant and supported by a lot of research.”
Hearing from more than one voice
A more diverse group of experts have been promised again for the next meeting, with the Firearm Trade Association of America offering its expertise.
“We literally are the experts on this matter,” said Nephi Cole, director of government relations and state affairs for the organization, who spoke during public comment. “We can answer all these questions related to ghost guns, different types of firearms, number of firearms sold, ATF regulations. This is our world, so everything we do, we’re happy to participate in this conversation. You’ve been asked to take seven actions by my count. You could spend weeks talking about each one and never get to the bottom of it.”
Cole said he looked forward to visiting further with the council, adding his group partners with both the American Council for Suicide Prevention as well as the Edgewater Police Department.
The fact the council dropped the notion of a broader concealed carry ban, including in private businesses, was only decided after City Attorney Thad Renaud said ongoing litigation across the United States may very well come back against many of the areas on the list, so council members decided to wait to discuss those. A ban on concealed carry in private business is likely to come back if the Supreme Court determines it’s constitutional.
“If this outline of potential topics, regulation, were a map of the ancient seas from 1600 or so, this part one, C, would be labeled beware, here lie dragons and possibly the end of the earth,” Renaud said, calling it ignorance from lack of information. “It may well be that the list of what the Supreme Court has described as sensitive areas … may be expanded; it may be diminished; or the rules determining whether you have a sensitive area or not may be provided by the Supreme Court case that is currently being decided.”
Although Gay Keao repeated statistics that say the tighter the gun restrictions the safer the city, David Kopel, research director at the Denver-based Independence Institute* and professor of advanced constitutional law at the University of Denver, said concealed carry permit holders are exceptionally law-abiding.
“According to FBI data in the annually published Crime in the United States, about 5% 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%. 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.”
City council gets an earful
Numerous Edgewater residents spoke out at the April 16 meeting against the proposed measures, with some saying they don’t expect the council to listen, nor do they believe the items taken off the list will remain off the list.
“I’ve watched our city council make laws restricting the freedom of the law abiding in line with progressive political philosophy for a long time,” said resident Larry Welshon. “In this case they are gutting the Second Amendment through incremental disassembly. I’d be delighted to be wrong, but past history proves this council is progressive.”
Welshon reminded the council that in a survey conducted by the city in 2021, only 47 percent of residents believe the council acts in their best interests.
But not all who spoke out against the ordinances could be considered conservative in their viewpoint.
“I am about as liberal as the day is long,” said resident Randy Novack, who said he was a neighbor to one of the council members whom he agrees with most times. “However, I’ve been shooting since I was a kid.”
Novack said education around how to respect guns and properly use them as well as the mental health piece is always missed when talking about gun tragedy.
“So, I think there are a whole lot of other places that we can focus our time and attention on to try and mitigate the amount of violence that we experience,” Novack said. “I really hope that we can look toward the causes of violent situations and crimes rather than looking at the gun. Don’t do none of this. Focus on the important things.”
Others reminded the council that the presentations they heard were one-sided.
“Your overall process is grossly flawed,” said Edgewater resident Karen Hing. “You have not brought in experts on both sides of the conversation. Much of what is actually on here demonstrates an obscene amount of ignorance on your guys’ part as to what the industry already is and what it out there.”
Others focused on the banning of specific firearms.
“I’m all for gun safety … and I’m also all for heavier restrictions on the citizen acquisition of firearms,” said Jared Novotny. “I have a lot of problems with the gun industry and the politics behind it. But these policies don’t actually stop gun violence”
Novotny cited studies that show gun restrictions don’t help.
“None of these really address the problem,” Novotny said. “The bigger problem to be addressed is mental health, not gun control.”
There was no timeline given for when the next work session would occur, but Complete Colorado will continue to follow this story.
*Independence Institute is the publisher of Complete Colorado.
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