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Commissioners pass gun laws to help prevent more mass shootings

Opponents say lawsuits are next
A selection of guns for sale at Grandpa's Pawn and Gun in Longmont in June 2020.


The Boulder County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved five new gun control ordinances that will help keep residents safe in an era of mass shootings and lesser known incidents of gun violence, they said.

“It’s just the rate of deaths in our country,” Commission Vice-Chair Claire Levy said. “It’s the homicides, suicides and the innocent bystanders who are injured or maimed. It’s to prevent those deaths and injuries.”

The five measures, including a 10-day waiting period before the purchase of a firearm, are not going to completely eliminate gun deaths in Boulder County, Levy said. “But we have to make a stand. We have to do our part.”

During a two-hour public hearing Tuesday, over 30 people spoke up about the ordinances with a slim majority disapproving of the measures. Over 170 residents also sent in comments via email and other means.

Some who spoke Tuesday told the commissioners the county will face a similar lawsuit filed recently in Superior which halted the implementation of a slate of new gun restrictions in that community.

“The Second Amendment is a God-given right,” Martin Kehoe said. “These regulations will do nothing. Boulder County will be party to another lawsuit.”

Robert Jelgersma said preventing people from legally carrying a weapon in certain areas like schools and churches only encourages people who want to do harm. “It just opens up the possibility of these places being like a shooting gallery,” Jelgersma said, adding  If he had been at the Table Mesa King Sooper —the site of a mass shooting in 2021 — “I could have taken that person down,” he said.

Commissioner Matt Jones said he remains skeptical of the view that law-abiding people with guns can prevent crime or another mass shooting. “I don’t buy the argument that more guns make us safer, it makes me feel less safe,” Jones said. 

If the county is sued over the ordinances, so be it, Jones said. “That’s what the courts are for,” Jones said.

Tina Pittman Wagers, a clinical psychologist, told the commissioners that one in seven people in the world suffer from some form of mental illness but the rate of gun violence in the United States is 25 times higher than in other similar countries. “The access to guns is the difference,” Pittman Wagers said.

All five ordinances passed by a 3-0 margin. Any violation of the laws are considered misdemeanor offenses.

The ordinances:

  • Prohibit the purchasing of firearms by anyone under the age of 21. The new law does not prohibit someone 18 or over from possessing a firearm for hunting, the commissioners said.
  • Require a 10-day waiting period prior to the sale of firearms. The waiting period attracted broad support, the commissioners said. “It’s a cooling off period to prevent a rash impulsive act,” Levy said.
  • Prohibits the carrying of firearms in sensitive public places. Amendments to the ordinance tighten the definition of sensitive public places to include areas with the biggest impacts such as government buildings, polling places and places that serve alcohol.
  • Prohibit the sale and purchase of assault weapons, large capacity magazines and trigger activators. “These are simply weapons of war” and have no place in most areas, Jones said.
  • Regulate the possession of unfinished frames and receivers, and unserialized firearms. Also known as “ghost guns.” Most who seek access to ghost guns have not passed a firearms background check, Jones said. “These are assembled by someone who should not have a gun,” he said.