Denver, CO

Denver gun bill classifies pistols as assault weapons

David Heitz
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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A bill to ban so-called "ghost guns" in Denver goes far beyond outlawing firearms without serial numbers.

The legislation, set for final approval by Denver City Council next week, is a comprehensive gun control bill. The legislation lumps pistols into the category of assault weapons, a resident said at a recent City Council.

Keith Emerson said only 2 percent of guns recovered in Denver had their serial numbers removed. What's more, the state also is considering a measure to ban ghost guns, he said. That's why he doesn't believe the city's law is needed.

Mom speaks in support of gun bill

Kathy Hagan of Mom's Demand Action supported the bill at last week's meeting. She said criminals could get the items they need to make a Glock or an AK47 in just a few hours off the internet. None of the parts have serial numbers, she said.

She said laws to curb ghost guns are working. She said that ghost guns accounted for 31 percent of weapons seized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. "I am thankful for the attention the city is giving guns."

Denver's proposed bill also outlaws children 17 and under from operating BB guns, pellet guns, air guns, and other "gas or mechanically operated guns." It exempts them from prosecution when discharging a weapon in a public or private place set aside for such use, such as a gun range.

Equipment used "for silhouette, skeet, trap, black powder, target, self-defense, recreational or competitive shooting, or professional training" and using the gas or mechanically operated gun as part of legitimate sporting activity is permissible.

Assault weapons defined

Assault weapon means any semiautomatic pistol or centerfire rifle, either of which has fixed or detachable magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds. Assault weapons also include any semiautomatic shotgun with a folding stock or a magazine capacity of more than six rounds or both. Any part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an (assault) weapon also would be illegal under the new law.

The legislation also spells out what are not assault weapons. "Assault weapon does not include any of the following: firearms that do not use fixed cartridges; weapons that were in production prior to 1898; all manually operated bolt-action, lever-action, and pump-action firearms; all single-shot weapons; all multiple-barrel weapons; all revolvers; all semiautomatic weapons for which there is a fixed magazine with capacity of less than 15 rounds available and which cannot accept a detachable magazine; all semiautomatic weapons that use exclusively en bloc clips; all semiautomatic weapons in production prior to 1954; all rimfire weapons that employ a tubular magazine; firearms that use .22 caliber rimfire ammunition; or any assault weapon which has been modified either to render it permanently inoperable or to permanently make it a device no longer defined as an assault weapon," according to the ordinance.

Bump stocks also would be outlawed. "Bump stock means any device for a pistol, rifle, or shotgun that increases the rate of fire achievable with such weapon by using energy from the recoil of the weapon to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger," according to the ordinance.

Knives, brass knuckles, explosives also outlawed

The bill also outlaws people from carrying illegal knives, brass knuckles, and explosive devices except for permissible fireworks.

Also outlawed are "any obstruction equipment, with the intent to use the object either by itself or in combination with other objects to obstruct the public's ability to freely move about on roadways, sidewalks, or into or out of buildings, or for inhibiting emergency equipment from being moved without impediment or delay" and "Any item, weapon, or noxious substance with the intent to use the weapon, item, or noxious substance for the purpose of defeating crowd dispersal measures."

Gun penalties range from $500 for the first offense to fines of $900 or more for third and later offenses. "Any sentence imposed for violation of this section shall run consecutively and not concurrently with any sentence for any other offense, if the weapon involved is a firearm, gas or mechanically operated gun, or incendiary or explosive device," according to the proposed law.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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