Boulder residents have days to comply with order to ‘certify’ rifles as deadline looms

Residents of Boulder, Colorado who refuse to comply with a state order to “certify” their so-called assault rifles this month could face fines, jail and confiscation of their firearms.

Following through on an “assault weapons” ban passed in May, the Boulder city council is requiring residents who already owned prohibited rifles, pistols, and shotguns to certify them with the police by December 27 or face repercussions, according to the Denver Post.

The sale or possession of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks was banned earlier this year and weapons already owned by Boulder residents were grandfathered in, allowing until the end of the year for a certificate to be obtained.

After the deadline, anyone found possessing a non-certified, banned weapon could face a fine up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail, according to City Attorney Tom Carr. The banned weapons may also be confiscated and destroyed after the owner is convicted.

Carr and Police Chief Greg Testa have reportedly admitted the limits of enforcing the ban and getting residents to comply with the order to certify their firearms.

(Image: screengrab Boulder Daily Camera Youtube )


The certification is not a form of registry, however, as no official records are reportedly being kept. Police apparently only have a “handwritten count” of the number of “certifications,” according to Boulder police Sgt. Dave Spraggs. To date, they have certified only 85 “assault” weapons, though he acknowledged that some gun owners may be moving their weapons outside of the city limits.

“My hope is that we will see more bans at the state level and one day at the federal level so these weapons will no longer be available,” Councilman Aaron Brockett said back in May. But city officials acknowledge there is not much they can do about those who refuse to comply.

“This is a very divisive issue where people have very strong feelings,” City Attorney Tom Carr told the Daily Camera. “The folks who oppose these kinds of bans … some of them suggest they’re not going to cooperate. I can’t predict what people are going to do, but I respect the feelings.”

The certification process involves a trip to the police department’s main location where an officer performs a visual inspection of the gun which is kept, unloaded and secured in a car.

According to the Daily Camera:

The police department then performs a background check and, if the owner is clear, issues two copies of a certificate with the owner’s name, date of birth and signature; the make, model and serial number of the gun, and the date of issue and issuer’s name. Both copies go with the gun to prove it was owned before June 15, 2018; Spraggs advises keeping one with the firearm and another “wherever you deem to be safe.”

Because police do not retain any documentation, they are unable to issue a replacement certificate if the original is lost. Certificates cost $20 for the first gun, and $5 per weapon for each additional firearm during the same certification


Many residents are skeptical as the low certification numbers can attest.

“By definition, effective governing must be practical and enforceable,” John Ramey, a resident of Boulder, told the Daily Camera. “When something isn’t enforceable, like the war on drugs, that’s a huge sign that the underlying legal model doesn’t match the actual problems and realities.

“At best, ineffective laws just displace or morph the problem. Mass shootings declined after Australia’s weapons ban, but gun-related crimes doubled in just five years. In countries like the UK and China, they now deal with daily fear of acid, knife, and vehicle attacks,” he added.


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