Denver, CO

Denver bans concealed-carry weapons in city buildings and parks

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Despite an unlikely political alliance opposing it, a ban on concealed-carry weapons in city buildings and parks became law Monday.

Denver City Council 9-3 for the ban. Councilmembers Kevin Flynn, Jamie Torres and Candi CdeBaca voted no. An amendment by CdeBaca to remove parks from the ban failed on a 9-3 vote, with Flynn, Torres and CdeBaca voting yes.

CdeBaca and Flynn generally sit at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Flynn is a moderate Democrat and CdeBaca a Democratic Socialist. They came together on the concealed-carry ban because they thought it targeted law-abiding people.Almost 17,000 people have concealed carry permits in Denver.

‘Blood on their hands’

CdeBaca expressed disappointment after her amendment failed. She said everyone on the dais who voted for the ban has “blood on their hands.”

CdeBaca said enforcement of the ban by its nature encourages profiling because no one is brandishing a weapon. She said profiling is a practice the city has spent two years discussing how to end.

Flynn joked that if he and CdeBaca agree on something, it must be the best or worst idea ever. “I feel like I’m in a political Bermuda Triangle,” he joked. “I rarely find myself in agreement with her.”

‘Like targeting teetotalers’

It’s already illegal to carry guns in city parks unless you have a permit. Flynn said the law is like “targeting teetotalers” in a drunken driving crackdown. He reiterated several times that staff did not provide any data to show the bill will make Denver any safer.

Exceptions to the ban include law enforcement officers, armed security guards licensed by the city, and people "engaging in a legitimate sporting activity, including, but not limited to, shooting matches, target shooting, or trap or skeet shooting."

The law requires the firearm to be unloaded and carried in a case when not being used for sport.

Violating the law can result in a fine of $50 for the first offense and $999 for offenses thereafter.

Residents passionate about guns

Gun control debates fire up Denverites. Public comment has been exhaustive on the ban in recent weeks.

CdeBaca and Flynn said the law would prompt concealed carry owners to leave their weapons in their cars, making the parking lots targets for thieves.

In a committee meeting in April, CdeBaca worried the ban would unfairly affect people of color. She said white people sometimes call the police on Black and brown people for no real reason. She said people of color have stepped up their interest in concealed carry permits for safety.

At that meeting, resident Kathy Kilmer spoke in support of the ban. A family member of hers took their life with a gun. She said the new law would make parks and public buildings safer. "We are sick of being fearful" at places such as libraries and playgrounds.

Obtaining a concealed carry permit

To obtain a concealed carry permit, individuals must undergo a background check. There is disagreement over whether applicants get proper scrutiny. Denver councilmember Jamie Torres said residents could easily obtain concealed carry permits. The application fee is $152.50 in Denver, including a photo and fingerprinting.

Torres said during the committee meeting that people who carry concealed weapons don't always get much training. She said she took a three-hour course that qualified her to apply for a concealed carry weapon but never handled a gun.

Some opposed to Denver's ban said it violates the U.S. Constitution. But a change last year to Colorado law allows municipalities to make stricter gun laws than the state.

"It's our Constitutional right to carry a weapon and protect our families," Thad Smith told the council. "Have the courage to stand up and not restrict these rights."

Flynn skeptical bills solve anything

During the first reading of the ban last week, Flynn and CdeBaca said they likely would not support it for the final vote. "I remain very skeptical that this bill actually does anything," Flynn said. "I look forward to any data that actually shows this solves a problem."

CdeBaca said other cities with bans in public buildings exclude parks.

The ban includes buildings leased by the city, such as the Denver Post building downtown. It would not apply to floors not occupied by the city.

The concealed-carry ban is part of Mayor Michael Hancock's public safety plan.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career at local newspapers. Today, I report on Denver and Aurora city halls for NewsBreak. Prior to joining NewsBreak, I worked several years as a health reporter and branded content writer in the healthcare space. I also worked many years as a news editor and city editor. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver.

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