On November 10 the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Josh Horwitz called on Colorado Springs to defy state law and end open carry within city limits.
Horwitz wants to end decades of open carry for law-abiding citizens because one man, Noah Harpman, used a gun criminally on Halloween and killed three innocents before police were able to kill him.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Horwitz argued that Colorado’s open carry laws allowed Harpman to walk around with guns without drawing the kind of reaction he should have drawn before his attack even began. Horwitz cites a 911 call by a concerned citizen who saw Harpman and reported him openly carrying a “a black rifle” and two gas cans. The witness, Naomi Bettis, also told the dispatcher that Harpman “appeared to have broken the window of a ground-floor business.”
Bettis said the dispatcher told her Colorado was an open carry state, but officers would be sent in response to a “possible burglary in progress.” Minutes later Bettis called police again to say the man had shot someone and they better come quick. Horwitz seizes on this to claim that Colorado’s open carry laws enabled the man to move around freely until he was ready to commit his crime.
It is interesting to note that Horwitz’s summary of Bettis’ 911 call omits something she alludes to struggling with as she talked to the dispatcher. Namely, that she didn’t know if the gun was real or not, as it was prime time for Halloween costumes. According to The Washington Post, Bettis said, “I couldn’t tell if it was real or not, it being Halloween day, you know, but that’s what I told her.”
That is actually a key aspect of her call and something that may have played a much larger role in police response time than did open carry laws which have been in place for decades.
Nevertheless, Horwitz is now asking Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers (R) to defy Colorado’s state law by seeking a ban on open carry within city limits. Colorado has a preemption law in place that bars cities and municipalities from regulating firearms in a way other than as they are regulated at the state level, but Horowitz points out that Denver successfully challenged that law in 2006, and he now wants to see Colorado Springs to do the same.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.