The City Council of Commerce City on Monday night passed a resolution in support of Second Amendment rights, declaring itself a Second Amendment sanctuary city and becoming yet another challenger, at least symbolically, to Colorado’s red-flag law.
“The City Council hereby declares its support for the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, the lawful exercise of the right to keep and bear arms by its residents, and safe and responsible legal gun ownership and use,” resolution NO. 2019-55 stated. “Therefore, the City Council declares Commerce City to be a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary.’ ”
Just before 11 p.m., the City Council voted in favor of the resolution: Five voted yes, two voted against and two abstained.
About a dozen people, mostly Commerce City residents, addressed the council before the vote. A majority asked the council to vote in favor of passing the resolution.
In general, people asking to have the resolution passed said that the red-flag bill will violate Second Amendment constitutional rights. Search and seizure protections, as well as due process protections, will also be violated, they argued. They see the resolution as a bridge to eventually overturning the controversial red-flag bill.
Some who asked the council to vote down the resolution recalled multiple mass shootings in Colorado, and around the country, expressing a desire to stop gun violence. One woman asked for a “no” vote, however, because she believes that the resolution wasn’t strong enough and that if passed it would limit Commerce City’s ability to protect itself.
Mayor Sean Ford, just before casting a vote in favor, told the council: “I don’t want anyone to infringe on my rights, or the rights of residents, to protect ourselves.”
On May 2, the conservative firearms group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court challenging Colorado’s red-flag law. The lawsuit did not challenge the bill’s constitutionality, but rather the manner in which it passed the Colorado House. At the time, however, gun rights supporters said future lawsuits may challenge the bill itself.
The Commerce City resolution calls for “immediate action to provide systemic and fundamental change in the provision of mental health care services” in Colorado and throughout the country.
On May 8, STEM School Highlands Ranch students — a day after the fatal shooting at their school — burst into spontaneous demonstration, protesting politicians and the media during an event at Highlands Ranch High School. The protest, in the form of a walkout with chants, happened after Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democratic presidential hopeful, and Congressman Jason Crow spoke to the crowd. Students, several hundred strong, chanted “mental health.” Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old senior, was killed in the STEM School shooting.
Students, including Castillo, rushed a shooter inside a classroom, likely preventing additional deaths. First responders, including law enforcement officers, have been recognized for their quick response.
The Commerce City Council on Monday night declared continuing support “for the safety and well-being of the members of the Commerce City Police Department” in passing the resolution.
The red-flag legislation, House Bill 1177, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Under the new law, judges in Colorado will be able to temporarily remove firearms from people believed to be at high risk of harming themselves or others. It was signed into law on April 12 by Gov. Jared Polis.
Supporters of the red-flag law expect that it will help cut down on mass shootings and suicides, while critics consider it an unconstitutional gun grab. Its passage prompted about half of Colorado’s 64 counties to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries — where the law will not be enforced.
Section 4 of the Commerce City resolution reads: “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed to modify or repeal any existing laws, policies, or regulations of Commerce City or to direct any employee of Commerce City in any manner, including to take any action in violation of any law or court order.”
Council members Steve Davis and Oscar Madera abstained from voting. Davis described the resolution as “confusing” and Madera said it’s political “grandstanding.”
Councilman Steve Douglas, one of the two members voting against the resolution, said: “This does not change the law, it’s only a statement … I’m not going to support this the way it is.”