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Broomfield Council debates additional gun ordinances

Broomfield City Council is considering a slate of local gun laws that would provide additional restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms than what’s already mandated by the state and federal government. 
The Broomfield City Council at a regular meeting March 8

Broomfield City Council is considering a slate of local gun laws that would provide additional restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms than what’s already mandated by the state and federal government. 

In an unusual step, Council accepted public comment on the topic at a Tuesday study session. Council study sessions are meant to be informational and a chance for Council to give feedback and direction to Broomfield staff on different topics, and councilmembers don’t take any formal action during the meetings. 

Broomfield city and county staff presented information on eight potential ordinances, including proposals to ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, establishing a minimum age of 21 years old for possessing a firearm, regulating “ghost guns,” requiring signs where firearm sales take place, prohibiting open carry in public places and prohibiting concealed and open carry in “specific public and sensitive places” like government buildings, parks, hospitals, grocery stores and theaters. 

More than a dozen community members spoke in support of and opposition to the proposed measures, including members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

Moms Demand volunteer and Broomfield resident Leslie O’Brien told councilmembers she supported the ordinances and that well-constructed and data-driven laws save lives. 

“I ask council to please look at this impactful, meaningful legislation and be bold. Vote with your conscience,” she said. 

Lives will be saved by enacting a waiting period on purchasing a gun, O’Brien said, as well as prohibiting large-capacity magazines and assault weapons. 

“There are a lot of things you can do if you support these ordinances, and these measures will make our community safer and make Broomfield an even more amazing place to live.” 

Resident Brittany Butler became emotional as she told councilmembers that she’s seen countless lives destroyed by gun violence as a doctor. 

“I think about gun violence every time I leave my house and it’s completely unacceptable,” she said. “I’m asking you to consider each of these ordinances and pass each of them.” 

Other community members raised concerns about how the ordinances would impact their right to own and carry firearms and whether it would open up Broomfield to become ensnared in the same lawsuits that Boulder County communities are now facing. 

“I think you’re going to have your hands full with this one to say the least,” said resident Jason Anderson. “Please heed the advice of your legal counsel very closely.” 

Resident Jim Morrell also raised concerns about litigation costs and how it will impact responsible gun owners. 

“These ordinances will have an effect but they will have an effect on me, they won’t have an effect on somebody who’s bent on breaking the law,” he said. 

Director of Public Health and Environment Jason Vahling also answered councilmember questions regarding the public health approach to gun violence, stating that the city and county first needs to get better data related to firearm-related deaths and injuries. 

“We need more research to dive deeper, looking at those root causes and how we can best address it, and that also includes research that's looking at the effectiveness of policies that have been passed or proposed in other states and if they are working,” Vahling said.

City Councilmembers shared support for most of the ordinances but several expressed hesitancy about pursuing the assault weapon and large-capacity magazine ban if it meant immediately becoming ensnared in a lawsuit. 

Mayor Pro Tem Stan Jezerski said they seemed like small steps in the scale of things and said he didn’t think they would do much to address gun violence, with the exception of the mandatory 10-day waiting period on purchasing a firearm. 

Jezerski said Broomfield is better off waiting to see what happens with the Boulder County lawsuits regarding assault weapons and magazines before enacting similar legislation. 

“We carried the mantle for oil and gas for a lot of our northern communities, so I feel perfectly comfortable letting these other communities deal with this issue and pending the outcome we can address it in a very timely manner,” he said. 

Councilmember Heidi Henkel said while her family uses guns and supports gun rights, there have always been rules around what kind of weapons are accessible to the public. 

Henkel said she supports many of the ordinances, including prohibiting open carry, but does not think prohibiting concealed carry in grocery stores or parks is a good idea. 

Henkel said she also wants to see language in an ordinance about requiring safety courses and safe storage requirements. 

Councilmember Todd Cohen asked staff to look at adding language to the signs posted outside gun establishments regarding suicide prevention and red flag laws. 

All of the ordinances will return to Council for further discussion and consideration, said City and County Attorney Nancy Rodgers.