Castle Rock

Council moves toward repeal of open-carry ban

About 200 people attended Castle Rock City Council's Jan. 21 hearing on an ordinance to repeal a ban on open carrying of weapons. With the hearing room at capacity, some watched on television in the lobby and another room. Photo by Virginia Grantier
By Virginia Grantier

Most Castle Rock police officers and town employees want town council to keep the ban on open carrying of weapons, and so does the town's public safety commission and other advisory boards' members — and planning commission members warned they all might resign if the ban were repealed, according to statements taken at the Jan. 21 town council meeting.

And Mark Stevens, Castle Rock's town manager, stated in a report that if council repealed the ban that "at a minimum" the council should direct staff to prepare a new ordinance that would prohibit open carry in buildings where employees work, meetings are held and the public does business.

"It's an issue of intimidation," said Millie Bennett, co-chair of the town's public safety commission, which advises town council on police and fire matters. She talked about the concern she would have if an audience member had a rifle at a town meeting.

But in the end, after about a five-hour hearing, Mayor Paul Donahue, made a motion to repeal the ban — and the town council voted 4-3 on first reading to repeal.

About half of the 50 members of the public who spoke at the hearing — some of whom  were residents of Sedalia, Castle Pines and other locations — wanted it repealed. And Councilmember Renee Valentine, who voted to repeal, said that was the overwhelming position of people who had contacted her about the issue.

Councilmember Jennifer Green, who voted to repeal, told the News-Press later that "elected officials work for the town residents in their district.

"They do not work for the town employees, the town manager, the police department, the collective boards and commissions or the businesses. Of the members on those boards who spoke last night, none of them is in my district.

Green said it is her job to listen to constituents "and to uphold and defend the Constitution. My constituents told me they want government to leave them alone, repeal restrictive laws such as the open carry ban, and let them make their own decisions rather than government doing it for them."

The three councilmembers who voted against the repeal — Mark Heath, Chip Wilson and Clark Hammelman — all talked about their desire for town voters to decide on the issue.

The current ban applies to municipal buildings such as town hall and the recreation center and some parks.

For the second and final hearing, there will be a special meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 28.