Colorado County Set to Change Local Gun Control Laws

More than a year after Colorado was rocked by a shooting that left 10 dead in a King Soopers supermarketone county is proposing gun control ordinances that include raising the minimum age to purchase firearms and banning the sale of assault weapons.

As gun control bills face greater opposition in many states and in Congress, the Democratic stronghold of Boulder County, where the shooting took place, could soon join several other municipalities around the Colorado to take gun control into their own hands.

“We watched the Aurora shooting, we watched Columbine, and then it happened in our neighborhood,” County Commissioner Matt Jones said, referring to the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting and the Columbine High School massacre. in 1999. “It’s too prevalent.”

The restrictions go far beyond state and federal gun regulations and come as the nation mourns the victims of a 4th of July weekend shoot outside of Chicago who added to the more than 300 killings nationwide since the start of 2022according to Gun Violence Archive.

“It is deplorable that we can have this degree of gun violence,” Commissioner Claire Levy said after the panel tentatively approved the measures on Tuesday. “Ideally there would be action at the national level and action at the state level, but in the absence of that action, I think we have to do what we can.”

It wasn’t until last year that this was possible in Colorado. In 2021, the Legislature, prompted by the Boulder shooting, joined at least eight other states in repealing a law that prevented local governments from passing gun ordinances more restrictive than state laws. States.

FILE – Tributes hang from the temporary fence surrounding the parking lot in front of a King Soopers grocery store where 10 people died in a late March mass shooting, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Boulder, Colorado. The Boulder County, Colorado Board of Commissioners gave initial approval on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, to new countywide gun control orders that would exceed state and federal regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The five measures include limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds instead of Colorado’s 15-round limit; extend the waiting period after purchasing firearms from three to 10 days; ban firearms on county property and “sensitive places” such as bars; ban firearms without serial numbers; and raising the minimum age for purchasing firearms from 18 to 21.

If the proposals are accepted, Boulder County will join other Colorado cities, including Denver and Louisville, in what some lawmakers hope will be a wave of local action across the state.

“It’s exactly what we wanted when we passed the law,” said Stephen Fenberg, the president of the Colorado Senate who sponsored the 2021 bill. “It’s heartwarming.”

The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, an affiliate of the National Association for Gun Rights, fears the measures could undermine residents’ right to protect themselves. Ray Hickman, a spokesperson for the organization, pointed to Chicago, which has strict gun laws but still suffers from a high homicide rate.

Hickman said the group is considering its options for undermining the measures, which could include legal action. A public hearing on the proposals is scheduled for August 2.

The new regulations would be based on federal and state laws and would only be applicable within county jurisdiction.

They were inspired in part by research by Giffords Law, a gun control advocacy group that has helped some towns in Colorado draft their own gun restrictions. Giffords Law found that while people between the ages of 18 and 20 make up only 4% of the population, they commit 17% of known homicides.

Levy said the measures are largely aimed at tackling gun violence, which often doesn’t make national headlines but accounts for the vast majority of gun-related deaths — homicides and suicides.

With approximately 45,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, mass shootings – defined as the killings of four or more people – represent less than a fraction. More than half are suicides.

“It’s a really big deal,” Levy said, “and it’s not just the rabid, glory-seeking, headline-grabbing young men who want to kill as many people as possible.”

Nearly three years before the supermarket shooting by a man with an AR-15 weapon, Boulder voted to ban assault weapons. The measure was blocked in court under Colorado’s old law prohibiting local authorities from making their own gun laws.

Investigators have not released any information on why they believe the man charged with the shooting, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, launched the attack. He lived in the nearby suburb of Arvada, where authorities say he passed a background check to legally purchase a Ruger AR-556 pistol six days before the shooting.

Cases against Alissa have been suspended since December, when a judge ruled he was mentally incapable of standing trial.