Castle Rock special election tackles future of town's gun laws
Voters in Castle Rock this month have the chance to weigh in on two ballot questions that will help shape the future of the town's gun laws.
The first is a question relating to whether or not the town manager has the authority to ban open carry in town-owned and -run buildings, facilities and parks. Open carry is currently outlawed in those locations, in accordance to the town manager.
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In late July, every registered voter in Castle Rock will receive a ballot in the mail. The ballot is a Special Election mandated by our Town Council. The ballot will feature two questions, A and B.
Vote “NO” on A
No Open Carry of Firearms in Town-owned Buildings and Parks!
Completed ballots can be mailed back to Town Hall, 100 N. Wilcox St., using a 49-cent stamp. Or, ballots can be returned in person to Town Hall, or The Douglas County Elections Office, 125 Stephanie Place.
All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19th.
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Issue A will be on a Castle Rock Special Election ballot in August as a measure to maintain or repeal the Open Carry of Firearms Ordinance in the Town’s Municipal Code.The question on the ballot reads as follows:
SHALL TOWN COUNCIL ORDINANCE 2014-03 BE APPROVED WHICH ORDINANCE REVOKES THE AUTHORITY OF THE TOWN MANAGER UNDER THE MUNICIPAL CODE TO PROHIBIT THE OPEN CARRYING OF FIREARMS WITHIN MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS, PARKS, RECREATION AREAS AND OTHER MUNICIPAL PROPERTIES OWNED OR OPERATED BY THE TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK?
A “NO” vote will keep the current municipal code and allow the Town Manager to post signage prohibiting open carry of firearms in public facilities and parks, such as the Recreational Center, Town Hall, Butterfield Park and other Town-owned properties.
A “YES” vote will revoke the Town Manager's authority, signage will be removed from Town property and openly carried guns will be allowed.
Below is the current sign on the Rec Center door and sign posted in Butterfield park. These signs will be removed if "A" passes.
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Question B was added to the Special Election ballot by Town Council at the very last minute through an "Emergency Adoption". Because of the rushed nature and the lack of educational information being provided by the Town to the voters, we recommend voting NO on B.
Below is Question B:
SHALL THE TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK HOME RULE CHARTER BE AMENDED BY ADDING A NEW SECTION 1-5 TO READ AS FOLLOWS?
Section 1-5. Constitutional Rights.
Any restriction or limitation on the rights of citizens to keep and bear firearms enacted by the Town Council shall require the approval of the registered electors as a referred measure under Section 15-4 of this Charter. This Section shall not apply to Town Council action which makes unlawful the discharge or brandishing of firearms. This Section shall govern and control over Articles II and VII or any other conflicting provision of this Charter, and shall apply only to Council action taken after its adoption.
Here are some facts about the question that we received after dicussions with Town Attorney that you will not find on the Town website:
• A “YES” vote would create a new amendment, 5-1, to the Town Charter.
• No other constitution rights are mentioned in the Town Charter.
• No other town or city in Colorado has a similar amendment that could be found.
• If passed by the voters the council will have to accept the amendment and any further firearm restrictions (not allowance) will require a town vote.
• Brandishing of firearms is not specifically mentioned in the town code or charter as a Town Council action.
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Concerned Citizens of Castle Rock is a non partisan grassroots organization. We are all Castle Rock Residents from many different neighborhoods who got together because we were concerned with the Town Council's decision to repeal an exisiting Ordinance which prohibited the open carry in Town-owned buildings and parks, such as the Town Hall and the Recreational Center, where there is public debate and children at play. Some of us are concealed weapon carriers and others have no interest in guns what so ever. But we all agreed on one issue: The open carry of firearms is too extreme and is not in the best interest of this community.
Many other groups and individuals in the Castle Rock community have agreed such as:
- Planning Commission
- Public Safety Commission
- Chief of Police
- Fire Chief
- Council member Chip Wilson
- Council member Mark Heath
- former Council member Clark Hammelman
- former Mayor Randy Reed
- former Mayor Millie Bennett
- former Mayor Don Jones
- former Council member Al Wonstolen
- former Planning Commissioner and Chair Barbara Dash
- former Planning Commissioner and Chair Leslie Lee
- over 90% of all Town employees and staff
- over 2500 Castle Rock residents that signed the Referendum petition
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On January 23, 2014, Town Council voted 4-3 to approve Ordinance 2014-03, which repealed the Open Carry Ordinance. The Open Carry Ordinance gives the Town Manager authority to prohibit the open carry of firearms in Town-owned buildings and parks. The Open Carry Ordinance has been in place since 2003 without any recorded complaints by the residents.
Town Council's repeal Ordinance (No. 2014-03) would have gone into effect on Feb. 27, 2014. However, a group of Castle Rock Residents were concerned that this decision was not the will of the residents, but rather an idea initiated by outside interests and Mayor Paul Donahue who is a managing partner of the Centennial Gun Club. The No Repeal group submitted a successful Referendum, with 2200 signed electors that required Town Council to rescind their decision or bring it to a public vote. The Town Council decided to bring the question to a vote in a Special Election in August.
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Open Carry is shorthand terminology for "openly carrying a firearm in public", as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer. The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years. This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.
“Open carry” is not defined in the Colorado Revised Statute. Research conducted by the Town’s Legal Department indicates that there are concerns related to restricting what types of firearms the Town may regulate with regard to open carry. As such, it is reasonable to assume that the practice of openly carrying a firearm in a public place includes rifles, shotguns, and handguns. It may include handguns holstered or carried in some other manner; and rifles and shotguns, carried by a sling or in an individual’s hand.
Another consideration is the fact that individuals who possess a concealed weapons permit have undergone a background check and obtained some degree of firearms training. In the case of individuals who open carry, there are no training requirements.