If you have been following developments in the small city of Castle Rock, Colorado (pop: 26,000) then you know the city council and mayor have:
1. Against the wishes of its police chief and the majority of the police department
2. Against the wishes of its Public Safety Commission
3. In the face of pending resignations from members of the planning commission
4. Against the wishes of 28 members of the Castle Rock community who showed up to a town council meeting to voice their support to keep the ban in place (they outnumbered the 25 who spoke in favor of the ban)
5. Against the opinion of the Denver Post editorial board
...voted 4-3 in favor of overturning a ban on open carry of firearms in public buildings and parks. Castle Rock is the county seat of one of the Denver metropolitan area's fastest growing counties - Douglass County - and as such is home to a significant cluster of public buildings.
Read all about it, here: http://castlerocknewspress.net/...
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and other advisory boards' members — and planning commission members warned they all might resign if the ban were repealed, according to statements taken at the Jan. 21 town council meeting)....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 here: http://www.denverpost.com/...
And Mark Stevens, Castle Rock's town manager, stated in a report that if council repealed the ban that "at a minimum" the council should direct staff to prepare a new ordinance that would prohibit open carry in buildings where employees work,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.
... and here: http://www.denverpost.com/...
However, this is not a done deal. The town council will take a final vote next Tuesday and so there is time for the public in Castle Rock and the local community to weigh in and let the mayor and city council know how they want the town to be run.
The ban was passed into law in 2003, and according to the mayor - who also happens to be an investor in a local gun range/club, the Centennial Gun Club (http://www.centennialgunclub.com) - it's high time Castle Rock residents get their constitutional rights back.
But, of course, there are a lot of folks who are not on board:
So why is the mayor (http://www.crgov.com/...) pushing so hard for this? Could it be that he has the backing of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the Colorado gun lobbying group that's been called too radical by the NRA?
Brown left the NRA in the 1990s because he felt the NRA was "kissing up to politicians." The NRA, at the time, blasted Rocky Mountain Gun Owners as an "extreme right gun group".http://thinkprogress.org/...
Could it be that if the mayor gets the ban overturned, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners will return the favor down the road, if say, the young mayor has his eyes on higher office? Or perhaps the RMGO will offer pro bono marketing and advertising for the mayor's gun range/club?
It turns out RMGO supplied resources to this campaign to overturn the ban - and a town council member says "[repeal] was the overwhelming position of people who had contacted her about the issue."
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners helped fuel the repeal campaign by providing information and grassroots support.Listen to the town council members and you might hear a familiar message:
"Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is against any measure that restricts law-abiding gun owners of their constitutional right," spokeswoman Danielle Thompson said Wednesday. "Citizens should be allowed to carry the tools of self-defense."
Councilmember Jennifer Green, who voted to repeal, told the News-Press later that "elected officials work for the town residents in their district.Sounds like gun lobby talking points that perhaps went from an RMGO email to a constituent to a town council member to a reporter, and/or directly from the RMGO to the council members. Furthermore, the town council actually does work for the police chief and police department, the public safety commission, the planning commission and down the line - to suggest otherwise is nonsense.
"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."
So what's going on here?
Did the town council hear from a representative section of their constituents, or, from a small and passionate group of pro gun advocates backed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners?
Colorado learned in 2013, the gun lobby will stop at nothing to get its way, including abusing recall elections meant to address real malpractice rather than to settle policy differences. A poll was taken of Colorado voters who said they did not agree with using the recall process as a means to settle policy differences:
Voters statewide oppose 49 - 38 percent the recall of State Sen. Evie Hudak for supporting stricter new gun control laws. Voters oppose 57 - 36 percent recall efforts for legislators with whom they don't agree, saying they should wait for the regular reelection.http://www.quinnipiac.edu/...
So, is the gun lobby gaming the system? Are they flexing their muscle on the Castle Rock vote by supplying a disproportionate amount of feedback to the council members who can then say they are "hearing from their constituents"?
Maybe. But giving the benefit of the doubt, perhaps, yes, Castle Rock citizens want people to be able to open carry firearms in school board meetings, or planning commission meetings and any meeting or place of business within a public building or a park.
The mayor is clearly going against the wishes of key public officials in Castle Rock — and maybe a majority of its citizens as well — who he needs in order to effectively run the city. Is that smart policy to potentially alienate the people you need to get things done? Probably not, but it seems that doesn't bother the mayor.
If you live in and around Castle Rock, why not contact the mayor and town council and let them know how you think they should vote next Tuesday:
Mayor Paul Donahue
Email : pdonahue@CRgov.com
Castle Rock Town Council
Tel: (303) 660-1734
Fax: (303) 660-1024
For the second and final hearing and final vote there will be a special meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 28. All Castle Rock residents and members of the surrounding community who use public buildings and parks in Castle Rock have a right to be heard and acknowledged by their elected officials. That's all anyone can ask for.
8:28 AM PT: In the comments, Phoenix Rising points out a strange dynamic between the Castle Rock city council members (who voted 4-3 to overturn the open carry ban) and the town planning commission (many who say they will resign if the ban is repealed): "The Planning Commission consists of seven members, appointed by Town Council." This is from the Castle Rock website: http://www.crgov.com/...
So you have elected council members hearing from their appointees that repealing the ban is a bad idea. Appointments are three year terms, so perhaps not all planning commission members were appointed by the existing town council members. But I'm sure a good portion (maybe a majority) were:
"The Planning Commission reviews, acts upon and advises Town Council about all zoning, rezoning, planning, subdividing, platting, annexation, and other related activities as provided in the Town’s zoning and subdivision ordinances.
The Planning Commission consists of seven members, appointed by Town Council. Each member serves for three years. However, the terms are staggered, so only two or three seats on the commission expire each year."