How does the proposed law define "assault weapons"?

As City Attorney Tom Carr has drafted it, "assault weapons" are defined as:

• All semiautomatic rifles that have the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and that have any of the following characteristics: a pistol grip or thumbhole stock; a folding or telescoping stock; or any protruding grip or other device to allow the weapon to be stabilized with the non-trigger hand.

• All semi-automatic center-fire pistols that have any of the following characteristics: the capacity to accept a magazine other than in the pistol grip or any device to allow the weapon to be stabilized with the non-trigger hand.

• Any firearm which has been modified to be operable as an assault weapon as defined by the city, plus any part or combination or parts designed to convert a firearm into an assault weapon

The Boulder City Council is currently scheduled to vote May 1 on — and likely approve — a ban on the local sale and possession of assault weapons, bump stocks and certain magazines.

But Councilman Sam Weaver is advocating for a change in plans. He wants the council to refer the proposed ban to citizens for a vote during the November general election.


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An overflow crowd filled the council's chambers for a public hearing April 5 on the proposed ban. Weaver said he was inspired to push for a public vote on the matter after hearing from some in the crowd who said that'd be a better course of action than a council-approved ordinance.

"I thought that was an interesting concept and as I reflected on it, Boulder has a long history of taking big, important issues to its voters," Weaver said. "It's the most democratic way for us to draw the line about what weapons are acceptable in the community."

He added, "It further seems like it might have more standing in court, if the people in the community vote and it's not just the elected leaders."

Councilman Bob Yates, a retired attorney who consulted Friday with City Attorney Tom Carr, said he doesn't agree with Weaver's assertion that a voter-approved ban would be more likely to be upheld if Boulder gets sued.

"What Tom told me only reaffirmed what I believe to be the case, which is that it won't matter, from the standpoint of the law's enforceability, whether it is passed by a vote of the people or passed by council, so I think that's an irrelevant distinction.

"If well-crafted, the law should be upheld either way, regardless of whether it's approved by the people or approved by council."

Yates said he intends to vote to pass, "with some revisions," the proposed ban on May 1, and that he won't support Weaver's idea. It would "not be courageous" for the council to send a policy matter like this to the ballot, he argued.

Weaver, like most, if not all, members of the nine-person council, supports the ban, a draft version of which has been authored by Carr at the direction of the council following the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Weaver said that he's talked to several council colleagues about his idea of sending the measure to the ballot, and that he "didn't hear much resistance," but that he also "doesn't know that it's fully accepted."

His idea will get a full discussion on May 1, when the council reconvenes to deliberate over the ordinance. No more public comment will be taken, though council members heard from more than 100 people during the hearing last week and have received hundreds more emails and phone calls.

Weaver still believes the council should vote to ban bump stocks and similar devices on May 1, but that it should let voters decide on assault weapons and magazines with the capacity to hold 10 or more rounds.

The proposed ban, originally proposed by Councilwoman Jill Adler Grano, has received some national attention, including from out-of-state media outlets and the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.

Grano — who said she's undecided on Weaver's proposal — said she's personally received hundreds of emails to her personal account and through the submission form on her professional page, jillgranorealestate.com. She said she took down that form as a result of the deluge.

Some of the emails she's received have been "filled with profanity"and sexist terms.

Asked whether Weaver's proposal might take some of the heat off the council and off her specifically, by making the proposed ban a decision of the citizenry and not just nine elected officials, Grano said, "I think there's something to be said for the citizens voting on this."

But she added that she isn't sure that a ballot measure is the right way to go, and that she'll be happy to defend her position on this matter whether or not it becomes an election issue.

"I have been the face (of the proposal) and I have shouldered a lot of the attacks that have come our way on this," she said.

"I'm comfortable in that position. I'm unwavering in my support for common-sense gun legislation across the country. This is where I live and this is where I can make a difference, so I'm comfortable continuing to shoulder the anger coming from the other side."

Grano said she's heard from many people on her "side" of this, too, and that she's confident a ballot measure would pass "overwhelmingly."

"I don't see a need to equivocate around this issue. This has been well thought-out," she said. "There's precedent for this in eight other states, in Denver, in Vail, in (Chicago suburb) Deerfield, in many other places. This is not an out-in-left-field proposal, and I'll continue to stand firmly behind it."

Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, burnessa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/alex_burness