Pro-gun rally at Lakewood park

Jeffco Sheriff vows not to enforce park rules against concealed carry

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/26/21

An online flyer calling for “patriots interested in preserving their second amendment birthright,” to congregate at Lakewood’s Addenbrooke Park, July 21, turned out to be a mostly low-key …

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Pro-gun rally at Lakewood park

Jeffco Sheriff vows not to enforce park rules against concealed carry

Posted

An online flyer calling for “patriots interested in preserving their second amendment birthright,” to congregate at Lakewood’s Addenbrooke Park, July 21, turned out to be a mostly low-key affair.

One large, silver pickup truck, American flag decals on the side, was the only indication you were in the right place. Light rain with dark skies threatening a downpour at any moment may have contributed to the abundance of empty parking spaces.

Fly-fishers, unbothered by the weather, practiced their casting on the grass nearby as a small group of around 20 people gathered to voice disagreement with a Foothills Parks and Recreation District (FHPRD) rule under discussion, that would prohibit concealed carry at any of its facilities.

Senate Bill 21-256, co-sponsored by Sen. Jessie Danielson (CO-20) and recently signed into law by Governor Jared Polis, gives more regulatory authority over firearms to local governments. It allows entities like FHPRD to enact ordinances, laws or rules in their jurisdictions that regulate the sale, purchase, transfer or possession of firearms in ways that are not less restrictive than state law.

No weapons of any kind could be seen at Addenbrooke Park (open carry is already prohibited).

And only occasional, verbal pot-shots at liberals, Democrats and the media were fired. One woman in attendance said a ban on concealed carry in Jeffco parks was a slippery slope to Nazi-ism.

The crowd — which appeared to be mostly in the 60-something age range — listened closely as Jeffco Sheriff Jeff Schrader gave his thoughts on the discussed rule, explaining his belief that it wasn’t enforceable by his office.

“We don’t have any role in investigating Special District rules,” he said. 

Schrader said park rules are a civil matter that should be left to FHPRD to enforce. 

He also voiced his concern that if there was an over-reaction to the proposed rule, lawmakers might come back next year and attempt to make it a crime instead of just a civil infraction. Regardless, he likened the FHPRD situation to the state’s 2013 ban on high-capacity magazines, saying that it wouldn’t be a priority for his department.

“I don’t make the law. You don’t want the sheriff to make the law. You just want the sheriff to enforce the law. But I have the ability to prioritize the resources that I have,” he said. “Those laws (magazine capacity) don’t have priority.”

Schrader went on to clarify that if a crime is committed, every aspect of it is thoroughly investigated and if a banned high-capacity magazine was used, that fact would be included in the report. But he said, at that point, magazine capacity of the weapon used wouldn’t be as big of a concern as other aspects of the crime. His analogy was to stress that if a crime were committed on an FHPRD property, the fact that it was a concealed weapon would not be the main concern.

Tina Francone, former appointed District 3 Commissioner, also spoke at the meeting. She said discussion of the rule should be a wake-up call for Jeffco residents, telling those in attendance to pay close attention to what’s happening at the local levels of government and encouraging them to let their voices be heard in future FHPRD meetings.

“The bottom line is, do you want your tax dollars being spent in this way for a problem that’s non-existent,” she said.

Francone also said, in her opinion, the rules would be completely un-enforceable because it would be impossible to put fences around parks to prevent someone from carrying a concealed weapon.

Ronald Hopp, FHPRD Executive Director, said there’s no discussion of fencing properties — signs would be used to inform visitors of the rule if it were implemented. 

He said when the District’s board was made aware that SB 21-256 had been enacted, allowing Special Districts to prohibit concealed carry, they talked about considering a rule change but haven’t come to a position yet.

“It’s a discussion and consideration, not a proposal,” he said. “Our board is talking about this because we had an incident happen where a person who had a concealed carry permit left a gun in a public bathroom and it remained in the facility until the janitorial crew found it 12 hours later.” 

He said the real question is whether guns belong in recreational facilities and parks.

FHPRD oversees numerous facilities including three recreation centers, eight swimming pools, two indoor sports centers and 68 parks. They also manage six regional trail corridors.

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