EDGEWATER — After three work sessions, including the first two featuring one-sided presentations by a virulently anti-gun rights organization, the Edgewater City Council has gutted all but one item on a wish list of new gun restrictions–a possible ban on the open carry of “deadly weapons” within city limits.

But even that is still to be determined, as the city council was warned at its May 3 meeting that an upcoming United State’s Supreme Court case could possibly upend that idea as well.

Edgewater is a metro-area home rule city of just over 5,000 people bordered by Denver to the east, Lakewood to the south and west, and Wheat Ridge to the north.

Hearing only one side of the issue

The discussion on whether to enact a laundry list of gun rights restrictions, ranging from bans on firearm and ammunition, as well as on both open and licensed concealed carry to waiting periods for new gun purchases, increases in purchase age and a slew of dealer regulations began on April 5 after City Councilwoman Hannah Gay Keao started exploring the wide range of stringent regulations as far back as late 2021.

Emails obtained by Complete Colorado show Keao has been working on multiple local gun restrictions alongside other Colorado communities and was in partnership with anti-gun advocacy groups to present the potential restrictions to her fellow council members for consideration.

But subsequent media coverage and resident opposition forced the city to ask firearms, and Second Amendment experts to join a roundtable discussion on May 3 at the council’s third work session on the topic. That turn of events led to the tabling of all but the one issue of open carry.

Keao– who was a Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety endorsed candidate in her election to city council–first invited Colorado Ceasefire, an anti-gun rights organization, to present on April 5 what it deemed as appropriate gun rights restrictions at the local level.  However, Keao’s emails show she spent more than three months helping prepare that very detailed presentation, as well as lining up Moms Demand Action volunteers to testify why a very long list of regulations was important to Edgewater.

Local governments were only recently given the authority to enact gun related ordinance under Senate Bill 21- 256, which was passed during last year’s legislative session and signed into law by Governor Polis. SB 256 unwound decades of state preemption and allows local governments to manage their own gun laws, but only so long as they are more restrictive than those at the state level, a condition that has been referred to as a “bastardization of the concept of local control.”

Edgewater Councilman Casey Earp initially asked for a citizen committee to hear all perspectives. But it was immediately shot down by Keao and Councilman Liam Donevan.

Keao nixed any committee creations, saying “the statistics speak for themselves … recent data from Everytown that basically came out and said stronger gun laws do make our community safer and reduce gun violence.” She said gun control measures are a single moment in time issue, not an ongoing issue that she felt needed committee input.

Donevan agreed, saying he would rather hear from the community over a period of work sessions.

David Kopel, left from the Independence Institute, shows Edgewater City Council a graphic of states with constitutional carry laws.

“I want to point us (in going in the direction of) that process, rather than some sort of committee,” Donevan said. “There will be ample opportunities to provide comment and perspective on this issue.”

Finally hearing other perspectives

However, a Complete Colorado article bringing to light the April 5 meeting caused numerous residents to attend and speak out at the April 19 meeting in opposition and ask for experts on both sides of the issue to be brought in.

At that meeting, in addition to agreeing to expanded discussion including perspectives beyond that of Colorado Ceasfire, council members also whittled down the list to include only the blanket open carry ban anywhere in Edgewater, a concealed carry ban in city-owned buildings and parks, a concealed carry ban in childcare center and preschools, a ban on so called “ghost guns,” and waiting periods for the sale of firearms.

Experts on firearms, gun violence and the 2nd Amendment were invited to be part of a roundtable discussion at the May 3 meeting.  Anti-gun activist Eileen McCarron, who is pushing the Colorado Ceasefire agenda in multiple communities statewide, was also asked to speak to the matter for a third time.

Those who attended included: JC Clark, co-founder of FFL Consultants and a veteran of the military, law enforcement and retail arenas. He serves as a primary business, security and compliance consultant to the firearms industry. Dr. Abigail Tucker, a licensed psychologist in Denver specializing in mental health. David B. Kopel,  Research Director of the Independence Institute*, a state-level think tank in Denver and an Adjunct Professor of  Advanced Constitutional Law at the University of Denver law school.

During the evening, Clark and Kopel gave strong arguments as to why the list of regulations were not appropriate. Despite Kopel also warning council members about possible lawsuits should the U.S. Supreme Court end up narrowing or even striking down open carry bans in a pending Second Amendment-related case, the council chose to move forward with that sole topic, but put off scheduling a second reading of the ordinance until July in hopes a decision is handed down by then.

Only a handful of community members spoke, most saying afterward they decided not to speak for now and hold their comments until the next meeting.

*Independence Institute is the publisher of Complete Colorado.

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