DENVER — While at least a dozen local governments along the Front Range have been quietly coordinating efforts with an out-of-state gun control group to enact local gun rights restrictions for nearly a year, it appears it may not be as easy in some metro-area municipalities as it has been in places like Boulder County.
Some Jefferson County (Jeffco) municipalities, for example, don’t appear to be willing to climb onboard, as emails obtained by Complete Colorado show.
Most notably, Wheat Ridge appears not ready to even have the discussion while Golden is only open to the idea if other city councils in Jeffco join in as a regional effort.
“My council didn’t bite,” wrote Wheat Ridge city manager Patrick Goff in response to an email from Golden city manager Scott Vargo inquiring about Moms Demand Action visiting governing boards across the Denver metro area. “We recently had a resident show up complaining about a new gun shop close to a park and asked the council to restrict gun sales within certain distances of schools, parks, etc. Again, council didn’t bite. I don’t think they want to go there at this point.”
Vargo sent the email to other Jeffco city managers in November after Mom’s Demand Action showed up at a council meeting advocating for gun restrictions.
“They suggested that they were planning to visit all of the JeffCo area town council meetings,” Vargo said in his email. “Golden’s position has been generally supportive if there is a regional approach, but less inclined to move anything forward on its own.”
Mom’s Demand Action is a national anti-gun group supported in part by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is well-known as a gun control extremist.
To date, only one Jefferson County municipality has even formally taken up gun rights restrictions. Edgewater banned the open carry of firearms last summer but failed to enact the laundry list of other restrictions many Boulder County communities have taken on.
The move came after emails obtained by Complete Colorado showed Edgewater city councilwoman Hannah Gay Keao was coaching residents on what to say at public meetings and coordinating efforts with numerous other city councils across the area in connection with the organizations Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.
Included among the emails were elected officials from Fort Collins, Lafayette, Louisville, Lyons, Superior, Broomfield, Edgewater, Boulder, Boulder County, University of Colorado, Denver, Westminster, Lakewood, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, and Larimer County.
The plan worked mostly in Boulder and Broomfield counties where local governments have passed numerous ordinances that include such things as banning open carry, banning concealed carry on government owned property or certain private businesses, banning specific weapons and ammunition, raising the purchase or transfer age and changes in dealer regulations.
Broomfield recently went one step further and passed on first reading a requirement for anyone purchasing a new gun be required to pass a firearms safety class in addition to a 10-day waiting period.
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.
Since communities began passing the new ordinances, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has filed several lawsuits claiming Second Amendment infringements against many of the communities, including Boulder, Superior, Louisville and Boulder County. The judges in the Superior and Boulder County cases have issued temporary restraining orders blocking enactment of some of the laws. Louisville and Boulder have agreed on their own to stay their enactment while the case is being litigated.
Complete Colorado obtained emails along with appointment calendars of the city managers from Wheat Ridge, Golden, Arvada, Edgewater and Lakewood in an effort to see if there was regional interest in gun rights restrictions.
Edgewater City Manager Dan Maples admitted he actively worked on the regional approach on behalf of his city.
“We worked with this group late spring through summer with a larger group of muni’s,” Maples wrote. “Happy to provide any information if helpful. May be easier over phone.”
And on Nov. 22, Arvada City Manager Lorie Gillis responded that she would be happy to share more on how Arvada is handling it over lunch with the other city managers. According to the calendars obtained in an open records request, Jeffco managers meet regularly for lunch.
“Thanks for the heads up,” Kathy Hodgson, Lakewood City Manager, wrote in her response. “I understand (Moms Demand Action) are planning to attend an upcoming meeting in Lakewood, probably this Monday, the 28th. It will be interesting to hear how our council responds. I will happily report back to our group.”
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