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Thread: Open Carry Experiences in Boulder

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    Well, not many people in the forum here seem to talk much about open carrying in Colorado, so I might as well pitch in with a bit of encouragement from Boulder, of all places...

    I carry concealed much of the time out of convenience, since living on the front range in the shadow of the mountains means wearing a coat from September through May. During the summer I'm out in the more rural areas of the state where carrying openly has never been much of an issue, but once you get closer to Denver (although not in Denver itself, alas), you encounter more and more transplanted west-coast denizens, as well as the typical inhabitant of Boulder who looks and acts as if the town's a socialist commune.

    Anyways, today was a beautiful 65F Veterans' Day (God bless you veterans!), so I took off into the mountains to go shooting - Garand, M1 Carbine, a k98k, and my M1911A1. When I was finished, it was nice enough a day that I certainly didn't feel like throwing on a jacket, so I kept my 1911 on my hip while I went about the weekend's errands at the grocery store as well as stopping in for some coffee at Starbucks.

    Despite the gun-fearing nature of towns around Denver, I hardly got a second glance as I went about my business. There wasn't a single reaction in the Safeway grocery store down on 30th and Arapahoe, despite it being crowded on a Saturday afternoon. At Starbucks, one 50-ish woman let her eyes go wide when she first saw my pistol, but didn't say anything; as I was leaving, an elderly man smiled and said, "I didn't think you young people liked anything but Glocks," which of course got a good laugh from us both.

    So, with such an uneventful story, all I can say is you shouldn't let other people's being unaccustomed be a discouragement to exercising your rights... even in a place like Boulder, you can take the plunge and help show people critical of firearms that normal, decent folk can go around armed and make the community safer!

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    great report - I lived in Colo Springs for over 3 years - and might just move back some day

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    Regular Member Anubis's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum, denwego! Thanks for the excellent information.

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    Regular Member reefteach's Avatar
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    ILOVE open carrying in CO, although,I probably would not have tried it in Boulder. Good on ya mate! The best part of Colorado carry laws is that you can carry however you want in your car, but if you get out of the car, you better be open carrying if you do not have a permit. I also like that reasonable locals are the majority, and that leftist tourists may be educated.

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    Actually, Boulder isn't as scary a place to try and open carry as some of the other towns scattered around Denver... to go with the state-color-coding system here, Boulder's a little patch of green in the middle of orange and yellow. Denver's the only place with any force of law currently backing their ignoring Colorado's preemption, but while some towns like Brighton have laws that nominally out-and-out ban open carry (unenforceable as they may be), Boulder doesn't ban open carry per se. It instead has a law passed after the 2003 preemption that requires all firearms be carried in a gun case unless they're in your car, on your property, at a shooting range, or hunting; and the last line of the law states that the requirement to carry in a case doesn't apply to anyone with a CCW. So, you can still carry without a permit anyways, since the state's preemption still applies anywhere outside of Denver in theory, but the town law doesn't apply for sure if you have a concealed permit.

    I'd carry openly without a permit in any event, but it's always nice to have an extra layer of legal safety. And I've done so on occasions other than the one I wrote about above, but I can't recollect them well enough to post... I'll stick up any fun ones here for certain!

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    Regular Member Anubis's Avatar
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    I didn't know about the Boulder open-carry law. I do understand that Denver's ban of open carryis the only one (relevant to open carry)sanctioned by a court; on the other hand, there is nostate law explicitly authorizing open carry as legal, so a city law might not conflict with it. Prove me wrong if you can, please!

    Here's a couple morelaws related to openly carryingfirearms in the Front Range (or Denver Metro) area.

    Broomfield: from http://www.ci.broomfield.co.us/code/

    9-28-010 Disorderly conduct prohibited.



    (A) It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:



    (1) Make a coarse and obviously offensive utterance, gesture, or display in a public place when such utterance, gesture, or display causes injury, or tends to invite fighting or an immediate breach of the peace;



    (2) Fight with another in a public place except as a participant in a sporting event;



    (3) Not being a peace officer, discharge a firearm in a public place except when engaged in lawful target practice or hunting; or



    (4) Not being a peace officer, discharge or display a firearm, or display any article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to reasonably believe that the article is a firearm, or represents verbally or otherwise that he or she is armed with a firearm in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.


    Sec. 38-241. Prohibition on the open carrying of firearms.

    The City of Thornton hereby prohibits the open carrying of a firearm, as defined in Section 38-237 of the Code, in any city building or in or upon any City property including but not limited to parks, open spaces or trails that exist within the City of Thornton and that have a sign posted at the entrance to any City building or City property informing persons that the open carrying of firearms is prohibited in such building or area.

    (Ord. No. 2767, § 1, 3-25-03)

    I don't go to Thornton, so I have no idea if lots of its parks, trails, etc., are actually posted no-open-carry. Anyone else know?

    Wheatridge (link above)
    Sec. 16-86. Brandishing, etc., deadly weapons.

    (a)It is unlawful for any person to display, brandish or flourish a deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm or for any person to intentionally and without lawful excuse, justification or purpose, aim or point a firearm at another person; provided, that the provisions of this section shall not apply to any situation that constitutes a felony under state law.

    (b)In this section "deadly weapon" includes firearms, knives, hatchets and dangerous clubs.

    Aurora (link above)
    Sec. 94-144. Unlawful concealment and display.

    (a)Concealment. It shall be unlawful for any person to wear under his or her clothes or carry concealed on or about his or her person any illegal or dangerous weapon, including but not by way of limitation any firearm, slingshot, razor, dirk, dagger, or any knife, nunchaku, throwing stars, or any illegal or dangerous weapon.

    (b) (skipped)
    (c)Display. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly, recklessly, or negligently display, flourish, or brandish any illegal or dangerous weapon, including but not limited to those enunciated in subsection (a) of this section, in such manner as to reasonably cause fear of bodily injury to another person.

    Worst one for me; I live in Aurora. If a soccer mom faints at the sight of a holstered pistol on a nonLEO, worst case would be losing the court debate over the definition of "reasonably".


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    Well, this is what I glean from these three cities:

    Broomfield - Broomfield's law has always been irritating for me, since the big mall in the Boulder area is technically inside Broomfield by about 30 feet or so. From how the law is worded, I'd be cautious myself about open carrying in Broomfield... I haven't done so myself yet due to a combination of this law and the fact that Broomfield businesses are pretty on the ball when it comes to knowing that you have to post NO FIREARMS, and many of them do, especially on the north side of town that is a bit more affluent.

    Thornton - Thornton's open carry ban is more or less in conformity with the state's permitting cities and towns to ban it as long as it's clearly posted; the two parks I've been through have signs posted, as do the town hall (I'm sure the courthouse is the same way, but I've not personally been there). From the fact that they changed their law to meet the state's requirements (the citations tell the slow, legalize story of that), I'd openly carry myself anywhere that isn't posted.

    Wheatridge - This city's ordinance hasn't been changed since 1977, so it's certainly wasn't made with preemption in mind in any way. As it reads, I'd be willing to bet that carrying a holstered pistol wouldn't be a problem, since it's very arguable that it wasn't "calculated to alarm" - by precedent, that usually requires mens rea, as the fact that someone was alarmed by seeing doesn't in of itself proof that you meant it to be alarming. I'll give it a whirl next time I'm down there and let you know how it goes.

    Aurora - I'm down in Aurora several times a month shooting at Cherry Creek; you ever make it out there? It's a great shooting range, and just a beautiful place aside from that. Anyways, I'm friends with one of the park rangers there... as an aside for the non-Colorado folks out there, rangers in CO are state-employed law enforcement in every sense, so they benefit from the immunities of law enforcement everywhere they go in the state. She's carried her service weapon openly on the weekends in Aurora while out of uniform, and she's said that almost every time she's done so, she's been stopped by the local cops. She's very pro-gun and pro-carry, and she's told me that if she weren't a ranger, she'd open carry everywhere in the state except Aurora and Denver. It seems not to be the same case as some other towns that discourage open carry; Aurora really goes out of its way to squash it. It strikes me as a likely place that the next case before the Supreme Court shall originate... but that said, I've not the time or money to press it myself. I begrudgenly carry concealed when I'm heading down to Cherry Creek, just to be totally safe.

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    Regular Member Anubis's Avatar
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    Wow, lots of crucial first-hand information, denwego, thanks!

    Sounds like anyone other than a Ranger or other LEO would be in trouble openly carrying in Aurora. I will remain in the concealed closet here.

    I shot once at Cherry Creek many years ago. With revived interest, I was scoping out the place only yesterday; looks like it's expanded much since I was there last. I definitely plan to shoot there soon.

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    Anubis wrote:
    I didn't know about the Boulder open-carry law. I do understand that Denver's ban of open carryis the only one (relevant to open carry)sanctioned by a court; on the other hand, there is nostate law explicitly authorizing open carry as legal, so a city law might not conflict with it. Prove me wrong if you can, please!
    Of course there is no law providing that OC is legal - laws only limit conduct, not set forth what conduct is lawful

    The issue is not "conflict," its "preemption." Like most states, Colo has a preemption statute over localities re: firearms generally.

    Howeever, the Colo Supreme Court saw fit, 3-3, to uphold a lower state court's holding that only some, but not all of Denver's city gun control ordiances, were nullified by Colo preemption statute due to it's unique "home rule" status. presumably, the Colo legislature could clarify the preemption statute some more to overcome this holding, but the word is out - the new justice who recused herself from the Denver case would have voted to overturn the holding - she was in the AG's office fighting the holding before she was appoiintind to the Colo Supreme Court.

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    Anubis wrote:
    (c)Display. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly, recklessly, or negligently display, flourish, or brandish any illegal or dangerous weapon, including but not limited to those enunciated in subsection (a) of this section, in such manner as to reasonably cause fear of bodily injury to another person.
    As for Aurora: Since a holstered firearm does not cause bodily injury, such fear would be unreasonable. Reasonable fear would be the OC'er threatening by actions such as handling, removing or stroking his/her firearm in a public place causing alarm or panic. Unreasonable fear would be alarm just at the sight of a holstered firearm. If the latter is construed as reasonable imagine if the same standard was applied to the use of deadly force.





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    Regular Member Anubis's Avatar
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    Mike wrote:
    - the new justice who recused herself from the Denver case would have voted to overturn the holding - she was in the AG's office fighting the holding before she was appointed to the Colo Supreme Court.
    Right. Plus, the recusal was mandatory. So her recusal from this issue is permanent while she remains on the court. Until there is another replacement in the CSC, no way to break the 3-3 deadlock.

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    Anubis wrote:
    Mike wrote:
    - the new justice who recused herself from the Denver case would have voted to overturn the holding - she was in the AG's office fighting the holding before she was appointed to the Colo Supreme Court.
    Right. Plus, the recusal was mandatory. So her recusal from this issue is permanent while she remains on the court. Until there is another replacement in the CSC, no way to break the 3-3 deadlock.
    Not quite - the Denver case is over and decided.

    If another case arose, the new justice is no longer recused. That would be like sdaying that if say Gonzales made teh SC next week, he could never ever vote on a p[artial birth abortion case b/c he was involved with supporting the current US govt. position.

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    I have OC'd in Boulder, both before and after state pre-emption. And a lot of "cased carry" during those days. Years ago very few people even noticed, maybe 10%. Now the fog seems to be clearing from their brains and they are acting like good little drones. Like Miyagi said, the glass needs to be emptied before it can be filled with something new.

    Anyhow, when I started carrying, I never had any problems. A few people would notice and not say anything. But now... almost every time someone freaks out and many people act like their lives just flashed before their eyes. One manager at the King Soopers on 30th threatened to beat me up if I didn't leave. I was on my way out the door anyhow so I just laughed and said "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." Needless to say, he just walked away.

    The other "problem" was at the book store near Whole Foods... Borders or whatever it is. Hard to tell them apart. I was looking though some books when I noticed two officers approaching.

    One demanded, "What are you doing?"

    "Shopping."

    "I mean with the gun."

    "Shopping."

    "Can I see some ID.?"

    "No." "Am I free to go or are you detaining me."

    "You are not free to go."

    "Fine, I have nothing more to say until I speak with my attorney."

    "ID, now."

    "Unless you suspect me of committing a crime you will not get an ID. What to law do you suspect me of breaking."

    "You are carrying a gun."

    Officer two: "He's right. Sir, the manager is asking you to leave."

    “OK.”

    That was that. One cop didn't now anything, another did.

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    I haven't been updating on this thread because I've been OCing around Boulder just about every day now since it last snowed, and I haven't had a problem.

    I was actually shopping at that very same King Soopers last night with my gun on my hip, and I didn't (and haven't) had a problem at all. How long ago was it that you had that uppity manager come up to you, JA? If it was a while back, it'd be great if they're finally getting used to it... better for us who OC, and better for all the other law-abiders in case a criminal doesn't feel like pressing his luck!

    As for police interaction, I haven't had a problem yet either. I was OCing at the new 29th Street Mall five days ago (dropping off my girlfriend's laptop at the Mac store); it doesn't get much yuppier than this mall on a weekday morning. While I was heading from the Mac store to the coffee shop down the street on foot, I walked right by a cop coming the other way who glanced at me, couldn't have possibly missed me with my 1911A1, and kept right on down the street without missing a beat. From time to time I've had rent-a-cops and other security folks give me ugly looks (and one followed me around on a golf cart; guess hoofing it on foot was too much!), but no one's had so much of a problem that I've been stopped or asked to leave anywhere.

    It doesn't surprise me that you'd have a problem at the Barnes & Noble down by Whole Foods, though... transplanted Kalifornazis are as thick as flies around there. I'd even bet that one of them spotted you in the parking lot and then followed you into B&N to complain to someone in there. As a quick aside, I've OCed several times in the Borders (down the street from B&N) and never had a problem.

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    Officer two: "He's right. Sir, the manager is asking you to leave."
    You don't know if he's telling you the truth.

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    Denwego, it has been ninth months or so since the King Soopers manager was so upset, but nothing has happened there since. In all, it really wasn’t much of anything.

    Lonnie, you are correct about not knowing if the manager was even involved, but you did make me think of something else about the experience. I have always been mentally prepared to use my weapon if necessary but was surprised at how hard it was not to show anger when the cop was harassing me. Authorities who don’t know the limits of their powers are infuriating. Fortunately, I have studied Boston T. Party’s “You and the Police” and discussed possible situations among friends so the situation never got out of hand.

    I do think it is critical that we all prepare for using our wits in tense situations, not just prepare to shoot if the time comes. Many people may forget their best weapon is reason and they will need it when faced by police who are trained to psychologically overpower “suspects”. In my case, I did reflect on things I could have done differently but at least I was calm, rational, and, hopefully, a good representative.

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    I had another surprisingly good interaction today while doing some shopping. While standing in line at the Borders in the 29th Street Mall, a fellow came up to stand behind me in line, and when he noticed me carrying my 1911, gave me a strangely-intoned "why on earth do you have that with you?"

    I responded, "I carry it around for self-protection," judging how he had asked his question before I got too chatty. He said, "Is someone out to get you?" I chuckled and said, "No, but it never hurts to be prepared in case someone suddenly decides to!" (taking an answer I heard first here on the forums!) He nodded and said, "I didn't mean to bother you; it's that I've never seen anyone just walking around with a gun. But I guess you must have your permit or you wouldn't be."

    I told him how you didn't need a permit in Colorado to carry any gun openly, just to carry it concealed. He said, "That makes a lot of sense... I never thought about people going about town with a gun, but if you've got it in a holster, I guess it's a good way to show you're not up to no-good."

    I nodded and said, "I don't mean to intrude myself, but are you from one of the coasts? East or west?" He responded, "Yep, I'm from California. They don't do the whole wild west thing out there, you know! But maybe they should, because I certainly wouldn't be bothered seeing nice people like you walking around... maybe some gang bangers would think twice!"

    By that time I had moved up to check out, so I shook his hand and told him I wish more Californians were as sensible as he was, to which he said, "I know; why do you think I left!"

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