It is final — GV will not allow any more gun stores in homes

BY FREDA MIKLIN
GOVERNMENT REPORTER

On July 11, the Greenwood Village City Council passed on second and final reading an amendment to its zoning code to prohibit any new retail firearms stores in residential homes in the city. The vote was 5-3, exactly as it was on the first reading on June 6, with City Council Members Anne Ingebretsen, Donna Johnston, Libby Barnacle, Tom Stahl, and Judy Hilton voting in favor of the prohibition. Councilmembers Dave Kerber, Dave Bullock, and Paul Wiesner voted to permit additional retail gun stores in GV homes without limitation.

Next to this photo on Tomcat Tactical’s website, it says, “Short Barrel Rifles, Short Barrel Shotguns, Silencers.” (Reprint)

There were at least a dozen people at the city council meeting who had an interest in this ordinance. Several were wearing red Moms Demand Action T-shirts. Three people asked to speak and Mayor Lantz permitted them to do so, even though the customary practice of the GV City Council is to only allow public testimony on an ordinance on its first reading, which occurred on June 6.

First to speak was a person who wished to be identified by her first name only and the fact that she is a resident of GV district one because, she said, “After the last meeting where one of our constituents said she had received a lot of threats by having her name and her address…” 

The subject she wished to address, she told Mayor Lantz, was how, at the June 6 meeting on the first reading of this zoning change to prohibit new retail gun stores in GV homes, “Rules of discussion were set forth by you, Mr. Mayor, and not followed by some of our councilmembers. What you had said was that we would be discussing the proposed zoning code and not firearms in general. I think that the constituents who spoke did a pretty good job in following that.” 

She then noted statements made by Council Member Wiesner, including, “That the (proposed zoning change) eliminates the individual freedom to go to ‘this type of setting’ to purchase a gun.” She continued, “I would say to that, that we’ve eliminated the rights of a lot of our residents to buy marijuana in our city, to bring a child to a home daycare center unless approved by an HOA, to bring your car to a residential auto repair maintenance business. We restrict short-term rentals, we have rules about solar energy systems. Most of these things are legal in other communities, in the city of Denver, and in our state.” She went on, “As Mr. Wiesner also said, eliminating neighborhood gun store businesses won’t stop people from buying guns. They could just go to Cabela’s (a local retail store that sells firearms and ammunition). I say, point made, problem solved. Just like buying marijuana in a neighboring community, taking your child to someone else for child care, having your car repaired at a trusted place that is zoned for that activity, you still have the ability to have your needs met. We have restricted things in our city for what we view as the safety and well-being of our community.” She also pointed to Wiesner’s statement that “mental illness was the root of gun violence,” which, she pointed out, “was not a zoning ordinance consideration that was to be discussed,” nor was it “a fact or a research-based statistic.” Having used the three minutes that a speaker is allotted by GV policy, she closed with, “And when surveying your constituents in the future, Mr. Wiesner, I would ask if you would ever consider going outside of Green Oaks (his neighborhood). I would love to be part of your polling.”

The following day, the speaker sent an email to the mayor and council that contained the balance of the statement she had intended to make, had she not run out of time. She also sent it to us. In it, she pointed out that Council Member Dave Kerber said, “That we are safe to live in a neighborhood with a police officer because they will go and get their gun to protect the neighborhood.” In the speaker’s opinion, that was, “an outlandish statement.” She continued, “I hope they call 911 and don’t put themselves or their neighbors in jeopardy.” Based on that and other statements made by Kerber, she said that she believed his comments, “encourage and promote vigilantism.” She also referenced other statements he made that she said were “very offensive” and had “nothing to do with the zoning issue at hand.”

Likewise, her email questioned Council Member Bullock suggesting that he knew “a person who has 120 guns in (their home) in GV…(who) will be part of the solution not the problem,” and stated, “I welcome you also to include me in the whole of district 1 in the future when you want to know what the whole of the district you represent wants for their community.”

As she wrapped up her testimony, Bullock told her, “We would be more than happy to meet with you.” 

Later in the meeting, Jason Pratt, owner of Tomcat Tactical, a retail gun store in GV district three, and Michael Burg, a local attorney and resident of GV district three, also spoke.

Mr. Burg expressed his appreciation to the council members who supported the change to the zoning code to prohibit any more retail gun stores in homes in GV, offering his opinion that, “People can get guns anywhere but selling them out of their homes in Greenwood Village goes too far.” He also said, “If there is a lawsuit brought over this, our law firm, Burg, Simpson, Eldredge, Hersh & Jardine, P.C., would be more than happy to work with the city attorney to fight such a lawsuit and we would be happy to do that without charging… I just think it is the right thing to do for community.” 

After the meeting ended, The Villager asked Mr. Burg what made him offer to defend the city in the event it is sued over the change in the zoning code to prohibit new retail gun stores in GV homes. He told us, “We are the largest law firm in Arapahoe County…I think the law is pretty clear that they (the city council) can take the action they took…I know that the city has limited funds. To the extent that we can help, we want to be able to help…We have a commitment to the community.”

Last to speak was Jason Pratt, owner of Tomcat Tactical, the retail gun store in GV district three that brought the issue of residential gun stores to the attention of neighbors. He said, “Our Constitutional Republic was founded on… individual rights against the mob. By pursuing and buckling under political pressure otherwise is simply allowing for mobocracy, as our Founding Fathers called it. The realities of pre-crime and the consideration that it could happen and this could happen in order to make my business illegal or others like it, is really the worst type of science fiction…To make simply an emotional plea does not bear to the facts. We’ve heard many various testimonies, many of which include, I believe, completely fabricated statistics; some were distorted, and then, of course, many fallacious claims.” He continued, “Believe me, it will not stop here…When will you stop? You won’t. Because you can’t make a deal with the devil…I know, from a military perspective, one of the things that keeps China from coming to our homeland is because they know that we have the largest standing army in the world. The Second Amendment…is about protecting our own individual rights and liberties. Those are being eroded away in a fashion our founding fathers could not imagine. But they did write the Second Amendment so they knew what was in the hearts of men…I pray that you would consider these facts… and consider what makes our country great and what makes it unique.”  

fmiklin.villager@gmail.com