Action taken after state lifts prohibition on local decision-making

Boulder City Council, in a 9-0 vote, passed six measures last night that are designed to keep the community safer from gun violence. The measures, prepared in partnership with Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety, follow a common-sense model that reduces the risk of harm while still allowing individuals to own firearms.

This work, and vote, follows the lifting of Colorado’s state pre-emption law last year. Colorado was the first state in the country to overturn its prohibition on cities and counties from passing their own gun laws. Forty-two other states still have gun law pre-emptions statutes.

Colorado cities that are considering passing their own weapons laws recognize the public health crisis that gun violence has caused in the country and the importance of consistent regulations and practices across jurisdictional lines. This is particularly poignant in Boulder, which had passed an assault-weapons ban in 2018, only to have a man legally purchase an assault weapon in Arvada and kill 10 people at a Boulder King Soopers on March 22, 2021.

Denver was the first city in Colorado to take advantage of the repeal of the state’s preemption of city gun violence prevention laws, passing a “ghost gun” prohibition in January. Boulder’s measures achieve the following:

  • Banning assault weapons, large-capacity magazines, and trigger activators such as bump stocks, similar to the laws passed in Boulder in 2018. The previous ban was challenged in court because of the state pre-emption statute at the time.
  • Banning ‘ghost’ guns, as Denver did earlier this year. The term “ghost guns” refers to firearms without serial numbers that are often built from 3-D printers or kits and are therefore nearly impossible to trace.
  • Raising the age limit for purchasing firearms from 18 to 21 and/or updating language to demonstrate this intent. Evidence shows that individuals in the 18 to 21 age range are at a higher risk of committing violence.
  • Instituting a 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases. This is designed to prevent purchase of firearms on impulse for immediate use.
  • Prohibition on open carry in public places. The open carry of firearms allows intimidation of peaceful protesters and voters. It can also help enable persons intent on gun rampages avoid police in the time leading up to the moment of shooting.
  • Disallowing carry in “sensitive” areas. These areas would include public buildings, polling places and ballot counting centers, banks, theaters, courthouses, hospitals, and other sensitive locations.
  • Requiring firearm sellers to post a health warning on premises. Signage would warn of the increased risks associated with firearms ownership, including suicide, death during domestic disputes, and unintended deaths of children or other family members.

Mayor Pro Tem Rachel Friend, a longtime advocate for gun violence action, made the motion to pass the measures.

“Gun violence continues to escalate in a maddening trend upward that’s daunting to watch and horrific to experience,” she said Tuesday night. “But shrugging or turning away and accepting the worsening status quo is not ok. Implementing common sense gun laws is the right thing to do. I am frankly frustrated that it’s left to cities to enact these laws that the federal government, or at least state governments, could and should be doing. Boulder alone cannot create all the protections needed to keep our community members safe from all the forms of gun violence. But voting on these ordinances tonight is what we can do for our community.”

Seconding the motion before council voted, Councilmember Bob Yates made the following statement:As a lawyer, I believe that these six ordinances have been crafted to comply with state and federal law. As a responsible gun owner, I believe that these ordinances are not unduly burdensome on those who want to own guns safely. These six ordinances identify dangerous and unusual weapons, vulnerable potential gun users, and sensitive places where guns, used inappropriately, can do the greatest harm.”

More information about the new regulations in Boulder can be found on the city’s website.