Proposed gun law for city of Craig revised; council to meet Tuesday

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References to "possession" and "public places" have been stripped from a proposed gun ordinance as the Craig City Council next week will reconsider the measure criticized by councilors on May 13.

Councilors last week had asked for the removal of potentially vague language in the proposal submitted by Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta:

"It is unlawful for any person to openly carry a firearm in the following locations: all city and county buildings, all city parks, and all establishments serving liquor," reads the new version.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Craig City Hall.

The Moffat County Fairgrounds and liquor stores were struck from the first proposal, which was re-worked by City Attorney Sherman Romney. The law initially banned possession of a firearm "in a public place, including all city and county buildings or property, all city parks, the county fairgrounds and all establishments serving or selling liquor."

A series of laws passed in the previous session of the state Legislature gave Colorado municipalities authority to restrict open carrying of firearms in public places.

The new laws also struck down many existing local ordinances addressing the same issue -- including all of Craig's measures.

The chief said his proposal is an attempt to fill that void.

"If I recognize something that could be a public safety issue, it's my responsibility to bring forward proposals to address that issue," Vanatta said. "I probably own as many guns as anyone. With those rights come responsibilities and I personally believe it's is irresponsible to carry a gun openly in a city park or a municipal building."

Concealed weapons permit holders aren't covered under the proposal.

Councilors Tom Gilchrist, Bill Johnston and Joe Herod last week each suggested the measure could infringe on gun owners' rights.

Gilchrist said he'll oppose the measure despite the new language.

Gilchrist added he's received six telephone calls -- all opposed to the measure -- from residents in the last week.

He said he's received five to six telephone calls in four years on the council.

"It looks like something that would cost money and time and not correct anything," said Gilchrist, reading from an email he said was forwarded to Vanatta.

The proposed law would address a non-existent problem, he argued.

"It doesn't happen," he said. "When was the last time you saw someone carry a firearm down a street?"

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com

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