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Jeffco considers ban on openly carrying firearms in some county buildings

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It could soon be illegal to openly carry a firearm into certain Jefferson County buildings. 

The Sheriff’s Office has asked the county commissioners to institute the ban in certain county buildings and properties. The ban would not prohibit a person with a concealed-carry permit from bringing a concealed weapon into county buildings.

The recommendations come after two incidents in recent weeks in which people carrying firearms — one at the Sheriff’s Office and the other at the human services building in the Jeffco government complex — caused a disturbance and, according to the sheriff’s report, made employees fear for their lives.

The first reading of the firearm-ban ordinance was expected to come at the April 30 commissioners meeting. The buildings being considered for a ban are the Human Services Building, the Laramie Building that houses several human services offices, the district attorney’s building and the sheriff’s building. 

The ban could expand. Commissioners agreed that the Sheriff’s Office should conduct a threat analysis at county buildings and then decide which should be included in the ban. 

 

Commissioners conflicted
about the proposal

Commissioner Faye Griffin was unaware that any guns could be brought into public buildings and the commissioners meeting room. 

“I just figured nobody could bring a gun into a public building,” Griffin said during the April 23 commissioners meeting. “In this day and age, you go to a baseball game, you wouldn’t want to see somebody just carrying a rifle or a gun with them. Or a bowie knife.” 

Commissioner Don Rosier said he was conflicted about a possible ban. While aware of the disturbance a gun can cause in high-tension situations such as family custody disputes, he doubted that a sign banning open carry of firearms would prevent trouble. 

“If someone wants to cause harm, a sign’s not going to slow them down. A sign’s not going to stop him … or her,” Rosier said. “In some cases, I’d rather see that an individual is carrying a firearm and/or a big bowie knife or anything else. Because I know firsthand, boom, that they’re there. That doesn’t say that they’re going to harm me or not, they’re just executing their Second Amendment rights.”

Commissioner Casey Tighe said he wanted to make sure there was a standard followed or a protocol in place to determine which buildings should be considered for a ban. 

 

Source of concern for staff

Sheriff Ted Mink agreed with Rosier that signs do nothing to stop a crime from occurring, but said an ordinance would prevent an openly carried firearm from frightening staff or customers, as well as prevent his deputies from having to guess the intent of a person carrying a firearm in the open.

“I don’t have to follow this guy because he has a gun,” Mink said. 

Lynn Johnson, director of Jeffco Human Services, said signs don’t make anyone safe. However, if someone did bring a firearm and was a concern, the deputies assigned to her building would simply ask that person to leave.

It allows the deputies to say, “ ’Sir, please leave if that happens again,’ ” Johnson said.