As Denver considers banning concealed carry in public places, gun owners and lawmakers question its purpose

The bill would adopt a statewide law passed last year.
3 min. read
A pocket knife sits on top a sign outside the City and County Building in Denver showwing banned items on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

City lawmakers on Wednesday hit pause on a proposal to ban concealed carry in public spaces, including city buildings and parks.

The Denver City Council's safety committee postponed moving the proposal to the full City Council after several lawmakers raised questions about the bill, which is being proposed by the City Attorney's Office as part of Mayor Michael Hancock's public safety plan to reduce crime in the city.

Councilmember Kevin Flynn and other lawmakers wanted more information about violations committed by permit holders in the city, specifically in places like city parks. He wanted to know what problem was being solved by prohibiting permit holders from concealed carry in these places.

The ban wouldn't just apply to public buildings, but also places like the National Western Center and the Convention Center, which are city-owned but leased out to third parties, according to Assistant City Attorney Reggie Nubine. It would also apply to buildings leased to the city, like floors within the Denver Post building.

"We wanted to ensure that locations that are city work locations are areas in which folks can't carry a weapon or really carry a weapon at all," Nubine said.

Councilmember Robin Kniech supported the bill, adding that no one piece of legislation passed by her peers solves every problem. She said there are examples, like a bill-turned-law that caps speed limits in certain parts of Denver to 20 miles per hour. The city doesn't have the ability to enforce every single violation, she said, but instead sends a message about the legislative body's priorities.

Those who wish to use the facilities inside the City and County Building must first pass through a metal detector. June 11, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

"I think our community is safer with fewer guns," Kniech said.

Councilmember Candi CdeBaca said doesn't want the bill to create more interactions between the police and people in marginalized communities.

Several lawmakers and people who spoke during the public comment period said the bill could conflict with the Second Amendment right to bear arms, a right Nubine said isn't unlimited.

Some who spoke during the public comment period supported the bill.

At least 12 people signed up for the brief public comment session -- an unusually high amount for a committee-level hearing -- though not everyone who signed up spoke.

"There is a Second Amendment place for hunting and other gun sports in Colorado," said Eric Jorgensen, who lives in the Harvey Park South neighborhood and joined virtually. "Having said that, I also believe that the city of Denver should take advantage of the change last year at the state level and update the code to restrict further the concealed carry of weapons at Denver properties."

Reno Pelletier, who identified himself as a retired U.S. Air Force officer, opposed the bill. Speaking virtually to lawmakers, he said as a concealed carry permit holder, he's not a threat to the public. He noted a rise in crime in Denver, including the record number of homicides in the city last year.

"(Concealed carry holders) are the most law-abiding people out there," Pelletier said. "By implementing this, what you're going to do is tell the bad people out there that it's a gun-free zone and use that as an opportunity."

The bill lays out a $50 fine for an initial offense and an up to a $999 fine and/or up to 300 days in jail for a second offense.

The committee is scheduled to consider the proposal again, during its April 27 meeting.

Recent Stories