Boulder is proceeding with a number of gun violence prevention measures, including reinstatement of the city’s assault weapons ban.
In its Tuesday study session, the City Council offered direction on a legislation package that, if approved in a future public hearing, would do everything from prohibiting open carry and carrying in sensitive areas to requiring a 10-day waiting period after the initiation of a background check for a licensed firearms dealer to deliver a firearm to a purchaser.
Prohibitions on open carry and carrying in sensitive areas, which include city buildings, public parks and playgrounds, hospitals and more, all would have exceptions such as for law enforcement, the armed forces on official duty and security guards.
The city also is looking to reinstate its ban on assault weapons, large-capacity magazines — those holding more than 10 rounds — and trigger activators, also known as bump stocks, which allow a gun to fire faster.
The ban, originally instituted in 2018 in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, was deemed invalid last year, 10 days before a gunman killed 10 people at the King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive.
According to earlier Daily Camera reporting, Judge Andrew Hartman on March 12 ruled that only state or federal laws can prohibit the possession, sale and transfer of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Colorado had passed laws “that are effectively a scheme preempting local governments from enacting municipal firearms and magazine possession ordinances,” according to court documents.
However, partly in response to the King Soopers shooting, the state Legislature repealed the preemption statute.
On Tuesday the Council unanimously supported moving forward with most measures presented by the City Attorney’s Office.
In addition to the aforementioned measures, the city also would raise the legal age of purchase to 21 and ban guns that have not been identified with a serial number by a federal licensee. While the city already prohibits people from purchasing guns until they’re 21, it intends to repeal its current ordinance and rework it to avoid preemption.
Additionally, the city has proposed a measure requiring firearms dealers to post a sign with a warning about access to firearms increasing the risk of suicide, death during domestic violence disputes and unintentional deaths.
Though it supported most of the proposals, the City Council was hesitant about one measure that would have regulated firearms dealers and ammunition sellers by requiring such businesses to obtain a city law enforcement permit and a land use permit to operate, among other things.
“This has the biggest lift,” Senior Assistant City Attorney Luis Toro said.
Because of this, the City Council recommended taking some time to consider whether the city has the capacity to take on this particular measure.
To that end, Councilmember Nicole Speer said she’d be interested to know if a specific price tag or staff count would make it feasible.
Further, Councilmember Junie Joseph was curious to know more about how the legislation, particularly the regulatory piece the Council ultimately decided to wait on, might be enforced.
“I’m just not sold on the enforcement mechanism,” she said.
This was a question when the original assault weapons ban was adopted as well. Officials indicated it would be challenging to enforce.
Ultimately, though, the City Council supported the majority of the proposal from the City Attorney’s Office.
“We really look forward to seeing these come to fruition as a major step for us to protect our community and certainly as we look to the year anniversary from which we lost 10 incredible people in our community,” Councilmember Matt Benjamin said.
The City Council greenlighted the work but did not specify a timeline, City Attorney Teresa Tate confirmed. Originally, there was some discussion about holding a special meeting March 22 to commemorate the anniversary of the King Soopers shooting by adopting legislation the city hopes will prevent gun violence.
Tate said the City Attorney’s Office did not expect to have the work complete by that time.
Once the City Attorney’s Office is finished drafting the legislation, it must be approved by the City Council after a public hearing wherein community members can provide feedback.