Garfield County gun advocates take aim at Aspen’s proposed prohibition of deadly weapons in city buildings

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Sheronna Bishop and Lauren Boebert
Garfield County residents Lauren Boebert (left) and Sheronna Bishop (right).

Aspen City Council’s proposal to ban people from carrying guns in city-owned buildings was characterized by members of the public Monday as “laughable” and “silly.”

Just over a half dozen people spoke during public comment, telling council not to pass the new law, which elected officials passed on first reading.

“It seems to imply you know better than us,” said Garfield County resident Sheronna Bishop, calling council’s action “laughable.”

“The audacity of you,” said Bishop.

Another Garfield County resident, Lauren Boebert, told the Aspen council she does not want to be disarmed in Aspen and it’s her Second Amendment right to carry a gun.

“You are not above the Supreme Court and you are not above the law of the land,” she said, saying Aspen’s effort is silly.

Councilman Skippy Mesirow told that woman that when he saw her gun strapped to her leg, he couldn’t concentrate on anything else and he felt a wash of fear come over him.

“It was a complete shift of energy,” he said.

“I’m sorry that your concentration is so small,” Boebert shot back. “My rights do not end where your fears begin.”

Last week, Boebert also confronted Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during a campaign event in Aurora over his gun buyback proposal. Boebert is the co-owner of Shooter’s Grill in Rifle, where the wait staff open carries firearms.

The Aspen ordinance was introduced after council members heard from some city staffers who said they want to feel safe in their workplace.

And with increased deadly weapon violence around the United States, council members are concerned for the personal safety of visitors, guest and employees.

Councilman Ward Hauenstein said it’s a symbolic measure and would not be actively enforced with metal detectors or searches.

“This is not a politically correct measure,” he said, adding it’s to protect the public and city staff, the latter of which are not allowed to carry weapons in their workplaces.

Hauenstein also said he doesn’t agree with open carry laws.

“I think open carry is stupid because you become the first target in an incident,” he said.

Councilwoman Rachel Richards pointed out that several large companies like Walmart and Walgreens have banned guns from entering their stores.

Aspen resident Andrew Sandler said he doesn’t want to be in a place where he can’t defend himself and guns are necessary for that.

“You can’t legislate against crazy,” he said.

Aspen residents Bob Morris and Phyllis Bronson separately supported council and the ordinance.

“I commend council for taking such a proactive stance,” Morris said, adding he is currently applying for a concealed weapon permit.

Bronson said gun control is the No. 1 issue in this country and anyone who thinks guns are the answer is wrong.

“Aspen is not Garfield County and we can make our own decisions,” she said.

Council will consider the ordinance again on second reading Oct. 8.

(Post Independent reporter John Stroud contributed to this report.)

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