Broomfield, Broomfield City Council, Civil Liberties, Featured, Local, Local Gun Rights, Right To Arms, Sherrie Peif

Broomfield poised to pass numerous gun rights restrictions despite near certainty of lawsuits

BROOMFIELD —After nearly three hours of discussion that included a rare allowance for public comment during a work session, the Broomfield City Council advised its legal staff to bring back for first reading a comprehensive list of new gun rights restrictions, despite an acknowledgement they will almost certainly be sued over at least some of the ordinances if passed.

At its recent work session, Broomfield legal council Nancy Rogers and Courtney Thiemann presented six ordinances for council to consider:

  • Ordinance A
    • Part 1 would make it illegal to possess sell or transfer an “assault weapon, large capacity magazine, or rapid-fire trigger activator” it would be a criminal violation punishable by up to $2,650 fine and up to 364 days in jail.
    • Part 2 would raise age of sale of shotguns to 21 — criminal violation.
    • Part 3 would create a grandfather clause for possession of:
      • Any “assault” weapon or large capacity magazine prior to effective date, but the owner would need to register the items with the Broomfield Police Department and follow several other regulations such as storage.
      • Rapid trigger activators would need to be removed from the city limits of Broomfield or surrendered for destruction.
  • Ordinance B
    • A ban on so-called “ghost guns” (unserialized homemade kit guns).
      • First violation of single weapon — fine up to $250
      • First violation of one or more weapons and an intent to sell — up to $2,650 fine and up to 364 days in jail.
      • Second or subsequent violations — up to $2,650 fine and up to 364 days in jail.
  • Ordinance C
    • Require signage for gun dealers: “Warning: Access to a firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of suicide, death during domestic violence disputes, and the unintentional death of children, household members, or others. If you or a loved one is experiencing distress and/or depression, call ….”
      • Criminal violation, first violation results in mandatory warning, second violation and on results in $500 fine.
  • Ordinance D
    • 10 day waiting period, up to $2,650 fine and up to 364 days in jail.
      • Both seller and purchaser can be held liable.
      • 10 days from initiated background check AND dealer has received approval.
  • Ordinance E
    • Open carry prohibition.
      • Any public place where public has access, except where firearms are stored or sold.
        • Criminal violation, first violation is a $500 fine, second violation and on is a $1,000 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail.
  • Ordinance F
    • Open and concealed carry ban.
      • Two groups.
    • Open and concealed.
      • Government buildings, public parks, playgrounds or open space, Broomfield recreation or community centers, within 500 feet of polling places.
    • Open and concealed unless given permission from the operating authority.
      • Other medical facilities, churches, stadiums, courthouses, banks, theaters, daycare centers, grocery stores.
    • Civil offense first offense up to $50 second and more $500, refuse to leave criminal trespass.

The local restrictions are possible after Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 256, passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature in 2021. The new law 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, meaning the law only allows for a one-way ratcheting up rather than true local control.

One law on Broomfield’s books already that makes it illegal to posses a loaded firearm in a vehicle remains unenforceable, however, as SB 256 did not remove the state preemption laws for transporting firearms, Second Amendment expert ande attorney David Kopel told Complete Colorado.

Close ties to national gun control groups

Although the laundry list of regulations that will come back before the board in the future are similar to those proposed in other communities in and around Boulder County, there are some aspects that go above and beyond, including only exempting law enforcement personnel while they are in the “course and scope of employment and role as a law enforcement officer.”

Broomfield’s involvement in the “regional approach” to gun control comes as no surprise, as the mayor, one other council member and the wife of another council member have close ties to gun control activist organizations Mom’s Demand Action, Gifford’s Law Center, and Every Town for Gun Safety. Two of the groups have written most of the language being used in the ordinances.

Mayor Guyleen Castriotta, Councilwoman Heidi Henkel, and Cori Shaff, wife of Councilman Deven Shaff co-authored a paper with Mom’s Demand Action Northern Region Director Lacey McGinty titled: “Social change starts with you.”

The paper outlines the trio’s plans for social change in their community, including gun control. McGinty was also Henkel’s paid field director during her campaign for city council.

All the council members were in favor of most of the proposed ordinances, only questioning the possibility of being sued and whether it would be better to wait until some cases already in the courts against the City of Boulder, Town of Superior, City of Louisville and Boulder County are completely litigated, a process Rogers admitted could take years.

“I am not the only one in this room that knows (hearings set for early 2023) is not the end of this case,” Roges said. “We all know this will go to the 10th (Circuit Court of Appeals), and if the court accepts them, they will go to the Supreme Court.”

Thiemann told the board that enforcement of the laws would not be easy, relying on others to report violations.

“We’re talking about things that are not obvious to the naked eye,” Thiemann said. “These will be complaint based. Somebody in a park might see something and they will call the police to respond.”

Several residents commented against the proposals, while Mom’s Demand Action activists were crying while they spoke.

“I think of gun violence every time I leave my house,” Brittany Butler said. “It’s completely unacceptable. Consider all of these ordinances and pass every one of them.”

Resident John Ewalt had the opposite opinion, calling the ordinances nonsense.

“They were created by national organizations who are not looking out for the best interests of Broomfield residents,” he said,  “Anyone who commits a violent crime in Broomfield is already breaking one or more ordinances. Does anyone seriously believe they will not break any new ordinances that are passed?”

Lawsuits a near certainty

Councilmembers, while all mostly supportive of the regulations, were also all over the place with emotion, most making sure to let everyone know they were “responsible” gun owners who simply understand the need for restrictions.

After a long comment outlining how pro-gun she and her family are, Councilwoman Heidi Henkel noted she wanted to create more legislation that would include requiring anyone buying a gun in Broomfield to be forced to take a gun safety class first, a piece of legislation that would severely impact gun sellers in the city, as residents could simply go a few blocks outside of Broomfield and buy a gun without the added expense and regulation.

Mayor Pro Tem Stan Jezierski called most of the ordinances “small steps,” questioning whether they will have any real effect on what Mom’s Demand Action is hoping to achieve.

“I hear your concerns, and they are very real, but I don’t think these are going to address them, unfortunately,” he said. “At this point if we do anything with (bans on assault weapons) it’s not going to yield us anything except expense in cost and time. It’s pretty clear that if (we pass those) we would be sued.”

Although Rogers said she could bring a detailed estimate of what litigation could cost the city to the next meeting, they did say most would be covered by insurance after a $250,000 deductible.

Jezierski did not favor the concealed carry ban, but Councilman Todd Cohen wanted to add language to required signage that said “suicide is often impulsive,” as well as information about the state’s red flag law, which allows family members and law enforcement to initiate confiscation of guns from others via a complaint.

“Statistics show it is better to unarm your stalker rather than arm yourself,” Cohen said. “I think we overestimate our ability to protect ourselves.”

Rogers told the board she would draft resolutions for all the ordinances based on what she heard from councilmembers and bring them back for first reading in the future.

It is unclear when that would be. But the planned effective date is expected for Dec. 1.

Complete Colorado will continue to follow the story.


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