Teller Commissioners Fire Away at New State, Anti-Gun Law

Elected Leaders Kill Effort to Ban Firearms Inside County Buildings

            Trevor Phipps

During the Colorado state legislative session this year, the super majority of Democratic lawmakers did what most expected and went after the rights of legal gun owners, according to county leaders.

Out of more than 600 bills that were proposed during the 2024 legislative session, a slew of them caught the attention of local government officials because they had to do with further regulating concealed carry permits, and where people can carry firearms.


One piece of legislation, Senate Bill 24-131 called “Prohibiting Carrying Firearms in Sensitive Spaces,” passed through both the state House and Senate, and is expected to be signed into law by the governor. It would go into effect on July 1.

Well, the county commissioners are basically relaying this message regarding the new anti-gun restrictions: “Over our dead body.” After losing their fight to get the bill voted down, the county commissioners have decided to use authority granted to them under the bill to pass an ordinance to opt out and continue to allow firearms inside county government buildings.


For the last few months, local representatives including the Teller County sheriff and commissioners spent days at the state capitol fighting against an array of laws aimed at attacking the state’s rural way of life. Among others, the gun-related bills saw the most attention from those opposing them, but with a heavy majority of Democrats in charge at the state level many of them still passed through the state House and Senate.


However, some of the more controversial and intrusive bills, such as House Bill 24-1292, called “Prohibit Certain Weapons Used in Mass Shootings” that would have banned the sale and purchase of 70 percent of the firearms that people buy, failed in a Senate committee. And many of the others got amended and watered down to where they were entirely different bills than originally intended.


For example, when SB 24-131 was originally proposed, the bill would have banned firearms in many public places including parks, public events and even parking lots. The version that was passed by state lawmakers however, eliminated many of the areas where guns would be banned (including some parking lots) and allowed local governments to opt out and rescind the law in their jurisdictions.


According to County Commissioner Erik Stone, the county has already put an ordinance in motion that would allow the county to opt out, meaning that people would still be allowed to carry firearms inside some county buildings, including the Centennial Building, where commissioner meetings currently occur, and the Tamarac government building in Woodland Park.


A Plan to Shoot Down the State Law
The ordinance also will allow firearms to be carried in any building where the county commissioners go for work sessions, including the public works building and sheriff’s office. “The statute implies that the law follows us around wherever we have a public meeting,” Stone said. “We are basically saying, ‘No it doesn’t follow us around.’”


The ordinance was introduced at the last county commissioner meeting, but Stone said that it will probably not go into effect by July 1. That is when the new state law becomes official.


If the bill passes, firearms would be banned in all state legislative buildings and their adjacent parking lots including buildings where there are offices of elected officials. Courthouses and “a building of a local government’s governing body, including buildings at which the offices of elected members or the chief executive officer of a local government are located,” and their parking lots would also be added to the list of places where carrying firearms is illegal.


In Teller County, firearms will remain banned in the courthouse due to the district judge’s orders, but other county buildings and parking lots will not be on the list once the county enacts their ordinance to rescind the law. But since the county commissioners can only choose to opt out of county buildings, the bill will still ban firearms in some other public places, such as parks.


“The bill prohibits a person from knowingly carrying a firearm, both openly and concealed, on the property of a public or private preschool; public or private elementary, middle, junior high, high, or vocational school; or any public or private college, university, or seminary (higher education institution), with exceptions,” the bill’s summary states.

“A violation is a class 1 misdemeanor. The bill maintains exceptions in existing law for carrying a firearm on the property of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school and adds exceptions for concealed carry permit holders carrying in the parking area of a preschool or higher education institution; security personnel at a preschool or higher education institution; and for a preschool that is on the same property as another building or improvement, carrying a firearm in an area that is not designated as a preschool.”


Current law already prohibits carrying firearms (both open and concealed) inside polling locations or within 100 feet of a ballot drop box or any building in which a polling location or central count facility is located, while an election or any related ongoing election administration activity is in progress. Stone said that people already can’t carry guns inside public schools, but it will affect private child care/preschool facilities and private colleges like the Charis Bible College


Some gun-related bills have already been signed into law, including one new measure that requires firearms to be safely stored in vehicles; a law that will track gun purchases; and a law that gives the Colorado Bureau of Investigation the authority to investigate certain gun-related crimes. Other laws that have been passed but not yet signed by the governor include stricter regulations on concealed carry permits, a bill that would require firearms dealers to obtain permits and a nine percent guns and ammo tax on all purchases.