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2nd Amendment fuels debate over Castle Rock repeal of open-carry ban

By Kate Gibbons 
The Denver Post

 

The Second Amendment was front and center this week as the Castle Rock Town Council gave its initial OK to repeal an ordinance prohibiting open carrying of firearms in public buildings and parks.

After hearing statements for nearly four hours Tuesday night from 53 people — 24 in support, 28 against and one neutral — the council passed the repeal on a 4-3 vote.

"I think it shows the residents of Castle Rock that their town council will stand up for their constitutional freedoms when possible," Castle Rock Mayor Paul Donahue said Wednesday.

Donahue, an investor in the Centennial Gun Club, said his vote for the repeal reflected his constituents' wishes.

"This was not an easy decision to make," he said. "But the majority of the feedback I received from my constituents was to repeal it."

In December, the council asked for an ordinance to repeal its open-carry rule. State law allows people to carry weapons in public, but local governments have the ability to ban visible firearms in town-owned and town-operated buildings, parks and open spaces. Castle Rock's ban has been in place since 2003.

"I am not sure if it will benefit or not benefit the community, but it will benefit our Second Amendment right," Woody Howarth, a Castle Rock business owner and resident, said Wednesday.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners helped fuel the repeal campaign by providing information and grassroots support.

"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."

William Larsen Jr., who has lived 26 years in Castle Rock, said Wednesday that he understands that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. "But it brings to mind that old saying, 'Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.' My concern is (that) in a closed area like a meeting room, you just don't know what people are going to do," he said. "I have seen people open-carry in Castle Rock, and most people are startled or alarmed at seeing someone with a weapon strapped to their hip."

City employees, too, are worried about the rule change.

In a letter to the council, Town Manager Mark Stevens stated that 77 percent of employees who were anonymously surveyed preferred that guns are not openly carried in city-owned buildings, and 66 percent said they don't want guns in parks. More than 160 employees participated.



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Background Photo Credit: Kasia Broussalian © 2015