The Denver City Council on Monday adopted an ordinance banning concealed carry permit holders from bringing a gun into any city facility or public park after an effort to strip parks out of the law failed.
The council voted 9-3 to enact the new restrictions on where guns are and aren’t allowed in Denver. The law is expected to take effect once signs are posted at the public entrances to buildings and around parks, city attorney’s office spokeswoman Jacqlin Davis said Monday.
Council President Stacie Gilmore spoke passionately in favor of the legislation at the committee level.
“I don’t think it’s necessary nor appropriate for members of the public, city employees or anybody to have a concealed weapon in a city facility,” Gilmore said at a hearing on April 27.
But other council members have remained skeptical of the rationale behind the legislation and the city’s ability to enforce it. District 2 Councilman Kevin Flynn asked representatives from the city attorney’s office last month for any statistics that could link gun crimes in the city to concealed carry permit holders.
Assistant City Attorney Reggie Nubine said at the time and reiterated on Monday that the Denver Police Department did not keep data on concealed carry permit holders committing crimes. Reached by email, DPD officials said the city attorney’s office speaks on behalf of the city administration on the legislation.
Flynn emphasized on Monday that carrying a gun in a city park is already illegal unless a person is a license concealed carry permit holder. He did not see how banning law-abiding permit holders from having guns in parks changed anything for the better. He pointed to recent incidents of violence in public parks, including a fatal shooting in La Alma-Lincoln Park, and noted there was no connection to concealed carry permit holders.
“There is no data, no foundation that this actually does anything at all to improve our safety,” Flynn said.
Enforcement concerns were part of what motivated District 9 Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca for forwarding an amendment that would have left parks out of the news restrictions. Specifically, CdeBaca said the suspicion that someone could be carrying a firearm in a park could be used as a justification for police to come to a scene with guns drawn. She said the legislation was likely to lead to racial profiling and put people of color at greater risk of unnecessary and even dangerous interactions with law enforcement.
“I’m really disappointed in my colleagues today,” CdeBaca said after her amendment was voted down 9-3. She said that as a person of color she and her family have been directly affected by excessive uses of force by police. “We just opened the door to justify it.”
Flynn, CdeBaca and District 3 councilwoman Jamie Torres, who represents La Alma-Lincoln Park, voted for the failed amendment. The three also voted against the larger measure.
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The law change was made possible by a bill that passed through the state legislature last year empowering Colorado municipalities to set their own standards for regulating firearms including concealed carry permits.
Eileen McCarron leads Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action. The organization lobbied for the state law change, which has opened the door for other communities like Boulder to consider new gun control laws. McCarron was among the people who spoke in favor of Denver’s ban Monday.
“The rationale for concealed carry laws was to reduce crime by offering individuals their own personal protection,” McCarron said. “We are still waiting to see those good results.”
The ban also drew plenty of opposition on Monday.
Denver resident Allyson Thorn said she found no data to suggest concealed carry permit holders have contributed to rising rates of violent crime in Denver.
“I am wondering why city leaders are wanting to ban good, honest citizens from legally carrying concealed weapons in city facilities and parks,” Thorn said. “For people whose objective it is to remove all guns, this measure only removed them from law-abiding citizens, not criminals.”
Penalties for violating the concealed carry ban start at $50 for a first offense and can reach up to $999 for subsequent offenses. The potential for jail time was originally on the table but the city attorney’s office eliminated that to ensure the ordinance conformed with state law.
The ordinance excludes police officers, security guards, military personnel carrying out their duties and some specific instances in which private citizens might be carrying a weapon to a destination like a gun range.
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