County Commissioners Ask For Help From Residents in Killing New Anti-Gun Laws

Local Leaders Say Second Amendment Rights at Risk

Trevor Phipps

Earlier this year, the Teller County commissioners warned residents that the Democrat-controlled state legislature was going to vigorously pursue their campaign against guns and firearms.

Well, after the initial stage of the 2024 legislative session, the commissioners appear right on target in their prediction as state lawmakers have introduced a slew of bills aimed at putting serious restrictions on gun ownership.

These efforts have local leaders crying foul, especially for an area that ranks as one of the main hubs for gun ownership on a per capita basis in the entire nation. Simply put, “Teller County and the entire Ute Pass region is known as gun country.”

Whether or not any of the proposed bills will turn into law is still up in the air, but the commissioners have entered the anti-gun battle big time by taking strong stances against any legislation put forward that restricts Second Amendment rights and gun ownership.  And even though they spend much time fighting against various proposed bills, they are asking residents to join them in this fight by testifying in person against such legislation, or by writing letters to their state representatives.

A Slew of New Anti-gun Bills

The legislative battle against guns started earlier this month when local officials testified against Senate Bill 24-003 that would authorize the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate gun-related crimes without notifying local law enforcement agencies. However, despite several sheriffs and district attorneys arguing against the legislation, it was approved by a key legislative committee.


According to County Commissioner Erik Stone, who has taken a leading role in representing rural counties on gun-related issues, the board has continued to fight against the bill because they believe that local law enforcement agencies don’t need help from the state. “Let’s say someone tries to enter your home and you are forced to defend yourself and your family and the sheriff says it is a castle doctrine issue and the district attorney agrees with them,” Stone explained. “CBI can then come in and launch their own investigation. Frankly, I don’t want the state police coming in and investigating stuff.”


Stone mentioned several bills at a recent meeting that he contends are aimed at attacking the Second Amendment rights of all Teller residents. The first bill Stone cited was House Bill 24-1292, named “Prohibit Certain Weapons Used in Mass Shootings.”


Stone said the bill introduced on Feb. 13 claims to be an assault weapons ban, but it actually bans nearly all semi-automatic weapons. “The bill defines the term “assault weapon” and prohibits a person from manufacturing, importing, purchasing, selling, offering to sell, or transferring ownership of an assault weapon,” the HB 24-1292 introduction states. “The bill further prohibits a person from possessing a rapid-fire trigger activator. A person in violation of the prohibitions will be assessed a first-time penalty of $250,000 and $500,000 for each subsequent violation.”


“About 97 percent of all firearms that are currently owned or sold in Colorado are semi-automatic,” Stone said. “It says that any semi-automatic weapon with a detachable magazine would be banned which is pretty much all of them.”


Stone said he also had problems with another bill that was recently brought to the table concerning concealed-carry permits. House Bill 24-1174, coined “Concealed Carry Permits & Training,” would increase the requirements for residents to be able to get a concealed-carry permit, and it has already passed through the Judiciary Committee.


“It would make the training process incredibly onerous,” Stone said. “Right now, there is no requirement for the length of class, essentially you just have to take the class from a certified instructor. The new one would require classes, tests that you must pass at a certain grade. And it requires a live fire test which Teller County does not have an indoor shooting range so the live fire would be difficult.”


Stone also mentioned another proposed bill that would regulate where people with concealed-carry permits would be allowed to carry weapons. Senate Bill 24-131, entitled “Prohibiting Carrying Firearms in Sensitive Spaces,” was introduced earlier this month. It outlines specific public places (coined “sensitive spaces”) where people would not be allowed to carry concealed or unconcealed firearms if passed.


The bill would outlaw guns, even if the person carrying one had a concealed-carry permit in public places, such as parks, or spaces that hold public events. The county commissioners argue that the list is too extensive, and it takes away the rights of those that have concealed-carry permits.


“Concealed means that nobody knows you are carrying, and you carry to protect yourself and that’s it,” Stone said. “There is no authorization to be a vigilante. And the statistics show that all of the groups they track for rates of committing crimes, concealed carry permit holders are the least likely of all citizens to commit violent crimes. It’s one fifth lower than the rate of law enforcement agents committing violent crimes.”


Stone said that it puts an unnecessary burden on concealed-carry permit holders to know where they can and can’t carry a firearm. He said he is afraid that the law will turn otherwise lawabiding citizens into criminals.


Since the legislative session is still young, more controversy surrounding guns is bound to hit the state capitol floor.