Jefferson County Commissioners consider banning open carry of guns in certain buildings

Opponents: Don't base policy on subjective fear

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - Jefferson County Commissioners have proposed a ban on open carry weapons in select county buildings.

A memo from County Administrator Ralph Schell outlines the reason for the proposed ban. In it, he cites two recent instances of people openly carrying firearms into a county building that prompted a law enforcement response.

He said that in both cases, there was a disruption of service. Also, citizens and employees were anxious or fearful for their safety.

Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir told 7NEWS that he understands the concern.

“Like it or not, we’re in a dangerous business,” Weir said. “I’m a very strong proponent of the Second Amendment, but first and foremost, security and safety is preeminent for me.”

Weir noted that there are some offices that deal with emotionally-charged issues where tensions are higher and security is a greater concern.

He said his office deals with some people who have been victimized by others with guns.

"It's my responsibility to see that my staff and the public that comes into contact with my staff are as safe and secure as possible," he said.

But opponents of the ban say it’s not good policy.

"It's a slippery slope when you start letting people's subjective reactions determine public policy," said Second Amendment attorney Robert Wareham, of The Law Center P.C.

Wareham is an open carry advocate who says that emotional reactions to weapons are no reason for the government to take away rights.

“If somebody is shocked that I’m exercising my constitutional right, all of a sudden that right needs to be infringed,” he asked. “That’s just a philosophy that I disagree with.”

Additionally, Wareham says the proposed ordinance gives the sheriff or his designee the authority to determine which buildings the ban will apply to.

"It appears to give him sort of unbridled authority to determine where and when people in the county can open carry their firearms. Way too broad. If that's the intent of the legislation, it's going to be subject to be challenge," Wareham said.

The Jefferson County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed ban at their regular meeting Tuesday morning.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. in Hearing Room One of the Administration and Courts Facility.

-- Read the meeting agenda: http://ch7ne.ws/18dxePr

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