The Denver City Council passed an ordinance on Monday prohibiting concealed carry permit holders from bringing a firearm into any city facility or public park after an effort to remove parks from the law.
The council voted 9-3 to enact the new restrictions on where guns are and are not allowed in Denver. The law is expected to go into effect once signs are posted at public entrances to buildings and around parks, city attorney’s office spokeswoman Jacqlin Davis said Monday.
Council President Stacie Gilmore spoke passionately in favor of the legislation at the committee level.
“I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate for members of the public, city employees or anyone else to have a weapon concealed in a city facility,” Gilmore said at an April 27 hearing. .
But other council members remained skeptical about the justification for the legislation and the city’s ability to enforce it. District 2 Councilman Kevin Flynn asked officials from the city attorney’s office last month for any statistics that might link gun crimes in the city to concealed carry permit holders.
Assistant City Attorney Reggie Nubine said at the time and reiterated Monday that the Denver Police Department does not keep data on concealed carry permit holders committing crimes. Contacted by email, DPD officials said the city attorney’s office was speaking on behalf of the city administration on the legislation.
Flynn pointed out Monday that carrying a firearm in a city park is already illegal unless a person has a concealed carry permit. He didn’t see how banning law-abiding permit holders from having firearms in parks changed anything for the better. He pointed to recent incidents of violence in public parks, including a fatal shooting in La Alma-Lincoln Park, and noted that there was no connection to concealed carry permit holders.
“There’s no data, no basis that it does anything to improve our safety,” Flynn said.
Enforcement issues were part of what motivated District 9 Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca to pass an amendment that would have excluded the parks from the new restrictions. Specifically, CdeBaca said the suspicion that someone might be carrying a gun in a park could be used as justification for police to come to the scene with guns. She said the legislation was likely to lead to racial profiling and put people of color at increased risk of unnecessary and even dangerous interactions with law enforcement.
“I’m really disappointed with my colleagues today,” CdeBaca said after his amendment was defeated 9-3. She said that as a person of color, she and her family have been directly affected by the excessive use of force by the police. “We just opened the door to justify it.”
Flynn, CdeBaca and District 3 Councilwoman Jamie Torres, who represents La Alma-Lincoln Park, voted for the failed amendment. The three also voted against the broader measure.
The change in the law was made possible by a bill that has been passed by the state legislature last year, empowering Colorado municipalities to set their own gun regulatory standards, including concealed carry permits.
Eileen McCarron leads Colorado’s ceasefire legislative action. The organization lobbied for change in state law, which opened the door to other communities like Boulder consider new gun control laws. McCarron was among those who spoke out in favor of Denver’s ban on Monday.
“The whole point of the concealed carry laws was to reduce crime by providing individuals with their own personal protection,” McCarron said. “We are still waiting to see these good results.”
The ban also drew a lot of opposition on Monday.
Denver resident Allyson Thorn said she found no data to suggest concealed carry permit holders had contributed to Denver’s rising violent crime rates.
“I wonder why city leaders want to ban good, upstanding citizens from legally carrying concealed weapons in city facilities and parks,” Thorn said. “For people whose goal is to take all guns away, this measure only took them away from law-abiding citizens, not criminals.”
Penalties for violation of the ban on concealed carry start at $50 for a first violation and can reach up to $999 for subsequent violations. The possibility of jail time was originally on the table, but the city attorney’s office ruled it out to ensure the order complied with state law.
The order excludes police officers, security guards, military personnel in the line of duty, and certain specific instances in which private citizens might carry a weapon to a destination such as a shooting range.