Unincorporated Boulder County, Colorado, institutes gun ban that almost completely bans guns in public

At its public hearing on August 2, the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously (3-0) to adopt five ordinances restricting citizens’ ability to acquire and carry firearms in Colorado’s unincorporated Boulder County, an area comprising Allenspark, Coal Creek Canyon, Eldora, Eldorado Springs, Hold Hill, Hygiene, and Niwot. The stated aim of these new laws is to reduce gun violence.

The five ordinances are as follows:

  • Anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from purchasing a firearm. It is also now illegal to sell a firearm to anyone under the age of 21.
  • A 10-day waiting period is now in place for the delivery of firearms from licensed firearms dealers. Additionally, the dealer must have received approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for the transfer.
  • Firearms can no longer be carried, either in an open or concealed manner, in “sensitive public areas in unincorporated Boulder County, including (but not limited to) government buildings, playgrounds, parks, within 500 feet of a polling station or ballot box, healthcare facilities, places of worship, preschools, and daycares.”
  • So-called “assault weapons,” large-capacity magazines, and trigger activators can no longer be bought or sold. Moreover, these items can no longer be manufactured, imported, or transferred in the county.
  • It is now illegal to possess firearms “that have not been identified with a serial number by a federal licensee (so called ‘ghost guns’).”
These new laws were made possible by Colorado Senate Bill 21-256, which states that “a local government is permitted to enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law governing or prohibiting the sale, purchase, transfer, or possession of a firearm, ammunition, or firearm component or accessory.”

Similar restrictions were applied in Boulder County, which is distinct from Unincorporated Boulder County. However, on July 22, District Judge Raymond P. Moore granted a motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the Boulder County town of Superior’s enforcement of a ban on “illegal weapons,” including so-called assault weapons, large-capacity magazines, and gravity knives. This was in response to a lawsuit filed against the town by gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Judge Moore, an Obama appointee, wrote that “the Court is unaware of historical precedent that would permit a governmental entity to entirely ban a type of weapon that is commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, whether in an individual’s home or in public.”

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Gun control laws introduced elsewhere in the country have been struck down by federal rulings. For instance, on June 23, the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen that New York’s state gun control law was unconstitutional on 14th Amendment grounds. Last year, on July 13, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that under-21 handgun bans are unconstitutional.

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