LYONS, Colo. — After bigger municipalities like Superior, Boulder and Louisville pursued new gun restrictions earlier this year, the Town of Lyons is now considering its own proposal.
The local chances come after state legislators passed a law last year to end preemption in the state and give localities more freedom to come up with their own ordinances. Local ordinances are allowed to be more restrictive than state laws when it comes to firearms, but they cannot be less restrictive.
Superior, Louisville, Boulder and Boulder County are all facing lawsuits over their new gun ordinances, which, among other things, ban assault weapons.
On Tuesday, the cities and county agreed to consolidate the legal cases so there would be one court hearing for all to determine whether a temporary restraining order should be extended through the duration of a lawsuit rather than hold separate hearings for each. The City of Boulder announced it will temporarily pause the enforcement of its assault weapons and large-capacity magazine ban for the time being.
“This is just a sign of what's to come and helping gun rights to be restored back in Boulder County,” said Taylor Rhodes, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the group behind the lawsuits.
Lyons' proposed ordinance, however, is different than the others. First, the town would ban open carry within town limits. However, that would not apply to private businesses, residences or within vehicles.
“It will not change anything for people who have a concealed carry permit,” said Lyons Mayor Hollie Rogin.
Second, the town would ban the sale of firearms and ammunition within the downtown commercial district. Currently, the town does not have any regulations of its own when it comes to guns.
Rogin says the goal of the proposed ordinances is safety, particularly after recent mass shootings in other areas. The town worked with the Boulder County sheriff to come up with the proposal.
“The proposed ordinances are common sense. They're limited in scope, and they're consistent with legal precedent,” Rogin said.
So far, Rogin says feedback from the town — which includes roughly, 2,000 residents — has been positive, and people are glad the town council is taking up the issue.
Because Lyons' proposal is more limited in scope, David Kopel, an adjunct law professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, believes parts of it will withstand a legal challenge.
Kopel believes the ban on open carry would fend off a legal challenge.
“That's plainly constitutional, I think, because they don't try to prohibit licensed concealed carry. And then, Lyons has not tried to get into what some of the other jurisdictions did, such as banning particular types of firearms or accessories,” Kopel said.
Historically, cities and states have not been able to ban firearms altogether, but they have been able to regulate the mode of carry. However, Kopel believes the town may see trouble when it comes to prohibiting the sale of firearms and ammunition within the downtown commercial district.
“The Supreme Court said you can have conditions and qualifications on commercial sales, but that's not the same thing as entirely prohibiting the stores from operating,” Kopel said. “It seems hard to justify, constitutionally, banning a particular type of store that sells constitutionally protected items. You couldn't ban bookstores in Lyons, you couldn't ban stores that sell religious items.”
Kopel says the town could try implementing zoning laws to limit where firearms are sold, but he doesn’t believe town officials can specifically discriminate against gun stores.
For its part, RMGO says it is now reviewing the Lyons proposal to determine whether it wants to try to stop it.
“It is significantly different. Our attorneys are looking it over. If it makes sense to sue them, we will,” Rhodes said.
For Rhodes and RMGO, the size of the town doesn’t matter. Instead, it's about defending the Second Amendment.
RMGO is planning on attending the next town meeting, where the firearm ordinance will be discussed.
“I've been talking to members in Lyons of what they can do to fight back against the gun control efforts that they're, that they're pushing. And that's what we're doing right now,” Rhodes said. “We will be there and ready to fight.”
The proposal unanimously passed its first reading on August 15. A second reading, where public input will be allowed, is set for September 6. If it passes, it would then then take another month for the final resolution to be adopted.