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Broomfield City Council holds 1st reading on proposed gun laws

More than three dozen community members lined up to have their voices heard Tuesday on the proposed gun ordinances.
Broomfield City Council meets on Oct. 18, 2022.

Broomfield City Council held a first reading Tuesday for its proposed gun ordinances and listened to 90 minutes of public comment from community members who were both for and against the ordinances.

The following proposals were discussed:

  • Banning the possession and sale of rapid-fire trigger activators. 
  • Establishing the minimum age of 21 to buy a firearm.
  • Regulating the possession of firearms without serial numbers.
  • Requiring all firearm dealers to post signs and provide educational notifications where a gun sale or transfer occurs.
  • Requiring a 10-day waiting period and proof of training/experience prior to the sale of firearms.
  • Prohibiting the open carry of firearms in public places.
  • Prohibiting concealed carry in places owned and operated by the city and county.

The proposed gun ordinances that aren’t moving forward are the bans on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, because neighboring communities that enacted the same bans were challenged in court on the grounds of infringement of Second Amendment rights. Those bans — in Boulder, Superior, Louisville and Boulder County — are currently not being enforced, pending the outcome of the cases.

Around 40 people — veterans, parents, pediatricians, lawyers and other community members — lined up in person and over the phone to comment on the proposed ordinances. Some called for all the proposals to be axed; others applauded the ordinances. Some took issue with certain proposals and called for them to be tabled — the most contentious ordinances were establishing the minimum age of 21 to buy a firearm and requiring a 10-day waiting period plus proof of training/experience prior to the sale of firearms. 

At least a dozen people expressed concern about the amount of taxpayer money that would go into defending Broomfield against lawsuits; however, Nancy Rogers, city and county attorney, assured Council that only the bans on assault weapons and large capacity magazines were being challenged in neighboring communities.

Some community members criticized Council for focusing on law-abiding citizens, and said criminals would commit crimes regardless of laws. Those commenters said Broomfield needs to focus on helping its police force and investing in mental health services. 

In response to the criticism, city staff called on Public Health Director Jason Vahling to outline the progress Broomfield has made to boost mental health in the community.

“This is a very complex issue when we’re talking about how do you potentially address gun violence,” Vahling said. 

“It takes a multi-factoral approach — there’s no one single solution of how we do this,” he said. “Broomfield is employing a comprehensive behavioral health improvement plan – we’re doing quite a bit with our residents. I do want to emphasize the fact that we rely on the expertise of an advisory committee that’s comprised of behavioral health providers … our city and county leadership, our school districts, impacted residents of mental health, to figure out what are those best solutions.”

One of the commenters was Kyle Wester, who has owned Broomfield Pawn with his grandfather for 19 years. Wester, who also spoke up at a study session on the ordinances held earlier this month, reiterated his plea for Council to drop the 10-day waiting period proposal. He noted there are several firearms businesses just outside Broomfield, where his customers could easily shop and avoid the waiting period.

“Why drive the tax revenue from my business out of Broomfield?” he asked City Council. “Citizens will just take their business elsewhere, and then return to Broomfield County with their newly purchased firearms.”

That ordinance would also require that the buyer demonstrate competence with a firearm.

“Competence could be shown by establishing your involvement in organized shooting competitions or current military service; if you’re a certified instructor — as that term is defined by state law; you were honorably discharged from the military within three years, or a discharge with a firearm class within the last 10 years; you’re retired Colorado law enforcement with a firearm qualification in the last 10 years; or you have a training certificate,” Rogers said.

A buyer would have to prove that they went through a firearms class in person within the last 10 years. The class would need to include firearm safe handling techniques, safe storage, mental health resources, deescalation techniques and training on state/local laws, Rogers said.

Several council members, including James Marsh-Holschen, Laurie Anderson, Deven Shaff and Mayor Pro Tem Stan Jezierski, said they have issues with the ordinance, and would consider amendments ahead of the second reading. Andersen proposed an amendment to require a waiting period *or* proof of competence — not both, and to add an exception for those who are carrying a valid concealed carry permit; however, that amendment was only supported by Jezierski and Councilmember Bruce Leslie, and it failed by a 7-3 vote.

The proposal was ultimately passed unrevised to the second reading 9-1, with Anderson voting against the ordinance.

At least a dozen residents spoke up against the proposed ordinance to establish the minimum age of 21 to buy a firearm.

Jim Morrell, a Broomfield resident, said he believes the ordinance makes no sense.

“Is an 18-year-old an adult or not?” he asked Council. “Are you going to take away their right to vote? If not, why not? It’s constitutionally guaranteed — so is the Second Amendment.”

Before Council voted to pass the ordinance into the second reading, Jezierski, Anderson and Shaff said they have issues with the proposal.

“On one hand, I know kids that are 17-18 and the thought of them having guns kind of scares me,” Jezerski told Council. “But on the other hand, I am compelled by the arguments that 18-year-olds can serve in the armed forces.”

The ordinance includes an exemption for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or Colorado National Guard.

“The exception doesn’t really make much sense, because I don’t see how someone in the armed forces is going to be buying a gun in their official duties,” Jezerski said.

Jezerski ultimately voted to pass the ordinance to the second reading, but said he would consider amendments.

The ordinance passed 8-2 by Council, with Anderson and Shaff voting against it. Shaff requested to table the proposal to allow for more research.

The other proposed ordinances were passed unanimously to the second reading, except the prohibition on the concealed carry of firearms in city and county buildings, where signs are posted. Anderson proposed an amendment, which passed 7-3, to add security personnel with electronic screening devices at some public entrances. Councilmembers William Lindstedt, Cohen and Marsh-Holschen voted against the amendment.

“We would have to have a magnetometer, we would have to have electronic screening devices in any building we did this, and I do think the costs would be extreme for a community we don’t necessarily need to be as concerned about,” Cohen told Council. “So I am opposed to this right now because I think it needs more work or more thought.”

Other council members said they believe the amendment “levels the playing field.”

“I don’t support the overall ordinance without it,” Councilmember Heidi Henkel said. “If we are going to not have concealed carry and we’re going to ban concealed carry, you really are hamstringing a lot of our well-educated people who own guns and who can use them. So I really do agree with this.”

The first reading was held after two executive sessions and two study sessions over the past few months to discuss the legality and implications of the proposed laws. A second reading is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2023.

Mayor Guyleen Castriotta held a moment of silence at the beginning of Tuesday’s City Council meeting for the victims of the deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.