(The Center Square) – Colorado counties would be able to prohibit people from discharging firearms in specific unincorporated areas under a bill moving through the state House.
Currently, a board of county commissioners can designate unincorporated areas of a county where it’s illegal to discharge firearms. However, the commissioners can’t prohibit the discharge of firearms in shooting galleries, on private grounds or in residences in circumstances where persons and property aren’t endangered. Plus, an area must have a population density of 100 people or more per square mile for commissioners to enact a designation.
House Bill 23-1165 repeals the exemption for private property. It changes the minimum population density to require any designated area for restrictions to be 35 dwellings or more per square mile. The legislation also prohibits any county from restricting the discharge of a firearm by any peace officer, in an indoor shooting gallery located in a private residence or at a shooting range.
“HB1165 is a blatantly unconstitutional bill that violates our Second Amendment and private property rights,” Kristi Burton Brown, chair of the Colorado Republican Party, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Yesterday, the Colorado Democrats advanced this anti-gun bill in the State House. Every day, they try a new, extreme and ridiculous way to strip our constitutional rights away.”
The bill is sponsored by Reps. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, and Karen McCormick, D-Boulder. Senate sponsors are Dylan Roberts, D-Clear Creek, and Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder.
“Peace and safety,” Amabile posted on social media. “Everyone deserves that. My bill to give Colorado counties options to regulate shooting on private property has moved forward….”
Amendments to the bill will allow commissioners to consult with the sheriff and consider the sheriff’s recommendation to adopt restrictions. The bill also was amended to allow firearms to be discharged in lawful hunting and livestock management.
The bill also states county commissioners can’t restrict or in other ways affect “any person’s constitutional right to bear arms or own or possess arms or to use arms in defense of self, family, or property.”
The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners criticized Republicans for not being more forceful during Tuesday’s debate.
“… such a disappointment,” Rocky Mountain Gun Owners posted on social media. “Nearly no resistance was shown in fighting the private property shooting ban. It is a sad state of affairs when we can’t even trust Republicans to fight back.”
Burton Brown said Democrat legislators from urban areas fail to understand circumstances in rural areas.
“Democrats from Denver, Boulder and other Colorado cities don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a rural landowner,” Burton Brown said. “Yet they continue to try and tell Colorado’s farmers, ranchers and private property owners what the government will ‘allow’ them to do on their own land. As someone who grew up and was raised in rural Colorado, I know our landowners are responsible citizens who exercise their rights with care for their neighbors and fellow citizens. Every patriot who values their rights needs to stand up and say ‘no’ to this legislature’s assault on our freedoms.”