Time For Colorado Lawmakers To Stop Breaking The Law

In the Denver Post's opinion section yesterday, their 'Day's Worst" item comes from a Durango Herald story that makes public a poorly-kept secret at the Capitol: legislators, generally but not exclusively Republican, routinely violate Colorado law, and carry concealed weapons into the Colorado State Capitol's gun-free zone. The Post says, "If anyone, state lawmakers ought to be aware that no one is above the law. Not even them."

But in many cases, they most certainly do consider themselves "above the law." Herald:

For years, the presence of concealed guns in the state Capitol – supposedly a gun-free zone – has been something that legislators know about but rarely talk about. But during this year’s debate about gun control, a couple of them have hinted at the open secret.

The most recent time was Wednesday, when a University of Colorado student testified for a bill to ban concealed guns from campus, saying that students feel intimidated from debating issues when others are armed.

Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, questioned her.

“Do you understand that there are several guns in this room?” Holbert said.

At that moment, as Hanel reported, there was only one uniformed police officer in the room. He goes on to write that Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, who does have a concealed weapons permit, "declined to say" whether he was packing at the moment of his interview. Longtime Capitol denizens will recall the incident in 2007 that resulted in access to the building being controlled by metal detectors and armed security, an armed mentally ill man who was killed outside Gov. Bill Ritter's office. With that, legislators packing heat began to break the law.

State law prohibits carrying a gun in the Capitol “without legal authority.” The law also prohibits concealed weapons from any public buildings that have permanent security. That includes the Capitol.

To be honest, we're quite surprised at the passive reaction from Democratic Speaker Mark Ferrandino:

Ferrandino, who does not carry a gun himself, said as long as legislators are following the concealed-weapons law, then it’s not a problem.

“I think it’s been commonly known that members have done that, and it hasn’t been raised as an issue,” he said.

The problem with the Speaker's lackadaisical response is that legislators are not following the law (see above) when they bring their concealed weapons into the building. And to be clear,

Through a spokesman, Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said there is no legal exemption for members of the Legislature to carry a concealed gun in the Capitol.

In a recent hearing, GOP Sen. Ted Harvey, another likely heat-packer, was overheard saying that the difference for legislators is they "don't have to go through the metal detectors." So not only do legislators admit to routinely breaking the law, they proudly will tell you it's because they can get around security.

Folks, how the hell is this acceptable behavior? How can lawmakers who acknowledge their own lawbreaking with a smirk be considered responsible lawmakers? Witness the recent case of a Nevada state assemblyman, a Democrat mind you, who was arrested with a gun after threatening his leadership over committee assignments–why should anyone assume that lawmakers are "safe" to carry in a place where no one else is?

The answer is simple: they aren't. This is wrong. And lawmakers need to check their guns at the door.

If need be, put them through the metal detectors like everybody else.

39 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. La Libertad says:

    Is this the only story you could gen up for the weekend … Christ the gun thing is settled at the capital. Citizens and Magpul lose, extreme leftist liberals, Bloomberg-types and suburban NIMBY whites win.

    Hell, this battle was settled in 2010 when Hick won the Gov office, which determined the house/senate would be Dem for years to come.

  2. ElliotFladen says:

    So much for liberals disliking McCarthyism:
    "Have you now or have you ever had a CCW?"

    /sarcasm

  3. Duke Cox says:

    Hell, let the lawmakers carry a gun at the Capitol….just make them wear it on their hip, so everyone can see it.

    • roccoprahn says:

      It's the reaction they look for. Like early in the President's first term, when the redleg gun loons and goobers in Arizona lined the streets carrying.

      They hope to inspire fear. Fear of getting shot by them.

      Pure intimidation.

      By sissies that will back down when called on it.

      What's the point of their threats ? That Democrats won't vote against them if those Democrats are afraid of getting shot?

      It won't work. It's stupid.

  4. La Libertad says:

    You hold a CCW, your decision is open carry is your own.

     

    I thought all you Liberal Leftist fetus terminating Democrats were all about Choice?

  5. DavidThi808 says:

    If the legislators flout the law, then why should anyone be expected to obey any law? Fundamental to being a nation of laws, not a nation of elite rulers is the law applies to everyone. And legislators should, if anything, be held to a stricter standard.

    Hypocrisy thy name is legion.

  6. DaftPunk says:

    What about legislative immunity during the session?

    Wasn't there an issue with that when Laura Bradford got pulled over for DUI?

  7. yameniye says:

    Several thoughts.

    First is that there should have been an exception for legislators to carry their own guns in their house.  If they want to have a firefight on the floor let them.  (okay that was a joke folks)  They really should have excused themselves from the rule, the same way they have a rule against being stopped on their way to the House during session.  The explaination for that follows

    Second, several have concealed carry permits because of threats.  Not that they might be in a situation that their gun might save their lives, it is the possibility that their stalker might not know whether they are "carrying" that counts.

    As someone who has had death threats there is something else.  I was trained in the use of weapons to kill, and other things.  Knowing that an assault would most likely occur in a situation that a weapon (such as a gun) would be useless is important. 

    How many of those in the Capitol have had training in close combat?

    How many of those in the Capitol, who are carrying, are mentally ready to pull the trigger?

    How many of those in the Capitol, who are carrying, are mentally ready to not pull the trigger?

    • roccoprahn says:

      yameniye, that is an excellent post.

      A guess is none, none and none.

      CQC or Krav Maga are skills that take a really long time, and require extremely repetitive applications. Injuries are common, bruises, black eyes, broken fingers all every day occurrances. Mat, one on one, constant sparring, situational, insane cardio,  it's the reason and reasons people don't stay long. Too much dedication required.

      Somehow, lundberg, mcnulty, brophy,  et al, just don't seem to possess the inner angels and restraint neccessary to weather and thrive in the chaos of training like that.

      As far as the fire arms and the mental toughness to assess a situation as to whether to fire or not to fire, from lappierre's and brown's own words and reactions to the horrible tragedies of late and former ones as well, the gun goon ilk at large seems totally ignorant of the dynamics of a firefight. They seem so clueless, it's outright scary.

      The gun loon industry and its' allies in red politics is promoting chaos, fooling rubes, and literally selling a product whose deadliness thay don't even comprehend.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      I don't agree, and neither does Senate President Morse, and neither does the Denver Post editorial board. Security does screen everyone who enters the Capitol. Legislators have been taking advantage of a loophole. There is no "legal exemption," as Senate President Morse says, for legislators.

      Nothing you point out explains why legislators shoudl be exempt.

  8. murisonc says:

    First lets get facts.  Are they breaking the law; actually no, not technically.  Reference CRS 18-12-214.

    (4) A permit issued pursuant to this part 2 does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun into a public building at which:

    (a) Security personnel and electronic weapons screening devices are permanently in place at each entrance to the building;

    (b) Security personnel electronically screen each person who enters the building to determine whether the person is carrying a weapon of any kind; and

    (c) Security personnel require each person who is carrying a weapon of any kind to leave the weapon in possession of security personnel while the person is in the building.

    Now with that said, in my mind it's still wrong.  If lawmakers want a gun free zone make it a gun free zone.  I have a huge problem with them making it a visitor gun free zone while they can quietly and legaly walk through a private entrance with a weapon.  That's not right.

    But this article is also wrong!

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      I have to agree with you. Both that it is legal and that it is wrong. I also think that they havve legislative immunity as well

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      Read my reply above. Senate President Morse has already confirmed that you are wrong. Legislators are exploiting a loophole in an otherwise secure area. They have no right to carry a gun in a gun free zone.

      • murisonc says:

        Morse is not a Judge.  He has an opinion, which based on the law, isn't technically correct.  Since lawmakers have a seperate entrance that does not have electronic weapons screening devices, the capitol is not a gun free zone.  I'm not condoning this and in fact I've alrady written my representative saying they should either make it gun free or not.  Call it a loophole if you want, but technically they are not breaking the law from what I read.  We can debate this all we want on some goofy blog but nothing will happen unless you contact your representatives.  

        In my mind they have two choices. 1. make it a gun free zone by either shutting down the private entrances or put security and screening at the private entrances.  This will make it a gun free zone.  2. remove the weapons screening at the public entrances which currently does not make it a gun free zone.

         

        • JeffcoBlue says:

          You'll forgive me if I take the word of the President of the Colorado Senate over, who exactly are you again? A new commenter on some "goofy blog." Yeah, sorry.

          • murisonc says:

            Yes, I forgive you.  Personally, I trust but verify.  I think more people should verify things rather than blindly trusting politicians of either party, or the media.  I've posted the law and it's pretty easy to read.  I think we're not that far apart.  I think what they are doing is wrong and it should be corrected.  You think they are breaking the law.

        • Duke Cox says:

           some goofy blog

          ouch…

    • DavidThi808 says:

      I think it depends.

      (a) Pretty much every building has entrances without screen devices. Loading docks for one example.

      (b) Pretty much every building does not screen a uniformed police officer.

      I think the law would be interpreted to allow for exceptions such as this because otherwise no building can be declared gun free and that flies in the face of what was obviously intended by the law.

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