Pro-gun demonstrators again congregated in downtown Boulder on Saturday afternoon as time runs out before a city ordinance banning the sale and possession of numerous kinds of semi-automatic weapons goes into effect.
And while AR-15-style rifles again were on display — just like they were at previous rally this past April — Boulder police said those gun owners were in compliance with the law.
The Boulder City Council in May unanimously passed an ordinance that prohibits the sale and possession of assault weapons, as defined by the city. Also outlawed are high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. It takes effect Friday, and already has prompted a lawsuit against the city.
Boulder police Deputy Chief Cary Weinheimer said that officers conducted a “hard count” around 2:45 p.m., and found 100 to 110 demonstrators along Broadway between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue.
That’s about half the number that turned out for the previous rally, and organizer Lesley Hollywood said the Ironman Boulder crowd down the street might have discouraged some from coming to the congested downtown area.
Numerous people were openly carrying AR-15-style rifles, seemingly in violation of the city’s open carry ordinance, which requires they be carried in a case. But a pamphlet police handed out at the scene stated that people with concealed carry permits can legally carry such rifles outside of cases.
At the first “Rally for Our Rights” in April, police chose not to arrest or cite several protesters carrying un-cased AR-15s — a move city officials said was designed “to avoid conflict.”
Police said earlier in the week that they would use discretion at Saturday’s event, and police could be seen speaking to demonstrators who were carrying rifles. Weinheimer said on Saturday that officers didn’t cite anyone for open-carry violations.
“We contacted somewhere between eight and 10 people who had slung rifles, and all of them were in compliance,” he said, noting the exemption for people with concealed carry permits.
One man, who declined to give his full name, told a Daily Camera reporter that he refused to put his AR-15-style rifle back in his car after being approached by police. Weinheimer didn’t have any knowledge of that interaction, but said a man carrying a replica of a single-shot muzzle loader — like a musket — refused to put it away, but police took a pass on citing him.
“Everyone we contacted was very cooperative,” Weinheimer said. “I asked one person to remove the magazine from his rifle, and he did. Everyone I encountered was cooperative and I haven’t heard anything from other officers saying anyone wasn’t cooperative.”
Jason Boros, who has organized several of the “Rally for our Rights” events between Fort Collins and Boulder, was carrying a rifle, and was allowed to because of his concealed carry permit. He said he complied with a request to remove the magazine from his weapon, and he did so in the interest of “keeping the peace.”
“It was a little begrudgingly,” he said. “I try to live as clean a lifestyle as possible and keep myself from being criminalized or being on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately, because of this new ordinance coming up, that might change simply because of the possessions I own.”
A man who said his name was John Smith — who was carrying a rifle — was seen speaking to the police, and afterward he said officers talked to him about the rules and regulations regarding open carry in Boulder.
“He asked me if I had a concealed carry permit, and I said, ‘Yes,'” Smith said. “He told me, ‘Thank you,’ and, ‘Have a nice day.'”
Longmont resident Patrick McClintock helped organize a rally in Longmont a couple weeks back, during which he carried an AR-15-style rifle. But he left the weapon at home on Saturday because, he said, he “didn’t want to cause too much provocation.”
“I think it’s unconstitutional,” he said when asked his opinion about the Boulder ordinance. “I hope the city is ready for the lawsuits coming down the pike.”
Weinheimer said the event was “very mellow” aside from the occasional person yelling a curse word from a passing car. He added that he had numerous conversations with people at the demonstration.
“I saw a lot of interaction between people on different sides of the issue,” he said. “There was a lot of respectful conversation.”
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