Castle Rock

Referendum started after Castle Rock open-carry vote

By Virginia Grantier
Posted

On Jan. 28 at about 11 p.m., Castle Rock Town Council voted 4-3 to repeal the ban on open carrying of firearms in some town buildings and facilities.

And on Jan. 29 at about 9:30 a.m., a committee of six residents, upset with the council's decision, started a referendum effort by submitting a petition to the town clerk.

Siegfried "Ziggy" Guentensberger, a volunteer baseball coach with the Castle Rock Parks and Recreation District, said he was told they will need about 1,800 signatures, submitted by Feb. 26, to do that. If successful, a special election would be scheduled.

If the town council's decision stands, on Feb. 27 — 30 days after that decision was made —  anyone who has a handgun or assault rifle or any other legally purchased firearm will be allowed to carry it in their hands or holstered to Castle Rock Town Council meetings, and other town commission and advisory board meetings, administrative offices, various parks and other town-owned properties.

Guentensberger said his biggest concern about the repeal boils down to one thing: "Do we want our city council to approve individuals to carry long (guns), whether shotguns or AR-15s, into our public parks or town buildings?"

He said he thinks it should be the decision of town residents, not four council members.

Guentensberger said planning a referendum actually started after the council's first public hearing on Jan. 21, when it became "very apparent" that the majority of council, four members, were not going to be swayed by public comments.

He said 78 percent of Castle Rock residents' emails on record at town hall about the issue indicate opposition to the repeal.

The town clerk needs to approve the referendum petition in consultation with the town attorney. Then the group can work on getting signatures, he said.

Jacob Vargish, a Castle Rock resident and engineering consultant, is also helping with the referendum issue.

"I don't think council has done a good job of taking into account the (public's) concerns," he said.

He said if the council had limited allowing open carry for, say, only handguns in holsters, that could have made a difference.

But, "they didn't even come to that compromise," he said.

He said he doesn't think the places being talked about are appropriate for rifles and shotguns, long guns.

"It's pretty obvious to me that this is common sense (that we) don't want to carry firearms into these places," he said.

If the referendum goes forward, voters would be asked if they want the approved ordinance that repealed the ban to be maintained or removed.

Vargish said if he thought the majority of residents wanted this, he wouldn't be involved in this effort, he said.

"But I don't think the citizens want this," he said.

For more information about the referendum and the group, go to http://norepealcastlerock.com/.