In May, in a fit of righteous do-goodism, the Boulder, Colorado, city council unanimously banned the sale or possession of so-called assault weapons along with high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks.” As a sop to those among the city’s 100,000 residents who already owned firearms, current possession of such items was grandfathered in. All that was needed was that, by December 27, a firearm owned prior to passage of the law would need to be “certified” by the local police department. A fee would be charged per weapon, and a background check run on the owner.
If the owner cleared the background check, and his check cleared the bank, he would then be issued two “certificates of ownership” showing the particulars of the firearm and the date it was issued: one to be kept with the firearm, the other to be kept somewhere safe, just in case the first one was lost or misplaced.
The city council promised that there would be no records kept, and no registration as a precursor to future confiscation. Compliance, for all practical purposes, would be left up to the gun-owning citizens themselves.
Boulder City Attorney Tom Carr said that anyone found with a “non-certified” firearm in his possession after December 27 would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and (not or) 90 days in jail. The now-illegal firearm would be confiscated and destroyed.
Carr questioned just how many citizens in the enclave known as “the Peoples’ Republic of Boulder” would comply with the demand that their grandfathered firearms be certified: “This is a very divisive issue where people have strong feelings. The folks who oppose these kinds of bans … some of them suggest they’re not going to cooperate. I can’t predict what people are going to do, but I respect their feelings.”
One of those who “suggested” he wouldn’t be complying is Jon Caldera, a resident of Boulder, president of the free-market think-tank the Independence Institute, and a well-known activist in the freedom fight in Denver and Boulder. His letter of defiance was published by the Denver Post in May: “My home town of Boulder is about to define me as a criminal if I do not disarm or move. Let this column serve as a public notice: I will not comply.”
After writing of his history as a citizen of the once “red” but now “blue” Colorado, and his disappointment with the typical liberal response to gun violence by criminalizing the innocent, he reiterated his defiance: “Let it be known, like those who refused to go to the back of the bus, I will not surrender or destroy my guns, nor will I place my name on a government watch list.”
If national averages of gun ownership are applied to the citizens of Boulder, then there are one or more firearms per citizen, most of them owned before the ban. Roughly speaking, that means there are approximately 150,000 firearms that need to be “certified” by December 27.
As of December 1, the Boulder Police Department had certified 85 of them.