Nucla gun ordinance shot full of exceptions

Nucla became the first Colorado town earlier this month to pass a law requiring its residents to own a firearm, but it hasn’t caused other municipalities to follow suit.

On a 5-1 vote, the town council approved an ordinance that requires the head of every household to own a firearm and the ammunition that goes with it.

But like similar laws in other towns nationwide, it provides numerous exemptions, including for people who just don’t want to have a gun.

As a result, Montrose County Commissioner David White said it’s largely a symbolic gesture.

“I really don’t think in Montrose County that it’s an issue because my suspicions are that most folks are armed anyway,” White said. “And if the elected officials representing the citizens who put them there voted to pass that, until the citizens say otherwise, there you have it.”

Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League, said he’s not aware of any other town considering similar ordinances, including Craig.

Last month, a Craig resident had suggested such a move, but Bommer said the City Council there is more likely to do what other local governments have done, pass resolutions supporting Second Amendment rights.

Resolutions have no force of law.

Under the Nucla ordinance, residents who don’t want to have a firearm can opt out of the law if they have a physical or mental disability, are a convicted felon or have religious or personal beliefs opposing the ownership of a weapon.

As a result, it’s not exactly like similar laws it’s based on, such as one recently approved in Nelson, Georgia.

That small town, located in the northern part of the state, approved its resolution in April, but included a $1,000 fine for those residents who violate it.

That prompted a lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, from the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

That lawsuit claims the town’s ordinance actually violates the Second Amendment, rather than supports it.

“The Second Amendment right does not authorize the government to force an individual to purchase a firearm for self-defense in the home,” the lawsuit says. “On the contrary, the right to defend the home affords each person the liberty to determine that the most effective way to do so is not to maintain or permit an operable firearm in his or her home.”

White said he neither supports the idea nor opposes it, but added that it makes sense for such a rural area.

“The reality is, it’s a large geographic area and if something’s happening locally, you’re pretty much left on your own until law enforcement can get there. And if they’re on a call 20 miles away, it’s going to be awhile,” White said. “They may call law enforcement, but if anybody’s threatening them, they take care of it.”


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