Writing about Boulder, Colorado without coming off like an alt-right douchebag is a tall order, doubly so if you’re trying to extrapolate the city’s recent unanimous council vote to ban all high-capacity magazines and so-called “assault weapons”. Really, trying to have a conversation at all about gun bans and private citizen’s access to firearms without sounding like a mouthbreather splitting hairs has become a doozy, thanks to a racist gun lobby that looks morally and ethically compromised as well as the general debating skill-level of your average online firearms enthusiast. I’d hope it goes without saying that listening to a milquetoast Facebook mommy of three with dishwater hair state “I want the boom-boom murder sticks to be put in HOT LAVA” is about as intellectually thrilling as dissecting the finer points of magazine terminology.
Boulder takes about six weeks off of my life for every three hour period I remain within the city limits. The stereotypes are true, South Park is right on the money: it really is a Trustafarian, Birkenstock-wearing NIMBY paradise. It’s both-sides-of-the-mouth liberalism at its finest, highlighted perfectly by its benches preventing the homeless from sleeping and vigilant camping ban while they promote an “entry and transition program”. Boulder is Colorado’s experimental gentrification-condo-hell microcosm, where they find out which new mixed-use developer concept could take root in other surrounding metropolises. Areas of Denver and Fort Collins have taken on eerie Boulder essences, radically changing the character of a variety of neighborhoods to an aesthetic only a sleazy Aspen coke dealer could find appealing. Smoking in public, particularly on Pearl Street, can get you a ticket and if CU is in session, every guy from Ohio that wore a Spiccoli sweatshirt and got into Bob Marley in eighth grade is roaming town trying to put molly in somebody’s drink. Boulder fucking sucks and everybody in Colorado that doesn’t live there or already think of it as some kind of hippie cultural Mecca hates it.
Unsurprisingly, Boulder loves virtue signaling. Maintaining a level of smug self-satisfaction and know-it-all moralism is a bipartisan pastime in this country, and nobody understands that better than Boulder. These are Kucinich voters, ladies and gentleman, but they all live in $1 million homes. Virtue signaling is all the political vitality these people have. That’s an empty tie-dye shirt. What the Boulder City Council accomplished by unanimously passing a blanket firearms ban only hurts their cause, costs taxpayers money, and ultimately usurps the oh-so-sacrosanct democratic process for a brief moment of bullshit political posturing.
Right off the bat, Colorado has a State Preemption Law which makes this law extremely difficult to finalize in any form:
A local government may not enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law that prohibits the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm that a person may lawfully sell, purchase, or possess under state or federal law. Any such ordinance, regulation, or other law enacted by a local government prior to March 18, 2003, is void and unenforceable.
Oh, drag. See, what made Colorado very attractive for like twenty years was that it was a true “purple” state. Nobody wanted to take anybody’s guns because of like, bears or goth kids or something, but also nobody really cared if you were growing weed in the backyard. There’s plenty of sparring over other social issues, but for the most part there was a sort of rugged, leave-me-alone-libertarian streak embodied characteristically by the wishy-washy middle-of-the-road-but-fuck-em politics of South Park or the LSD-for-lunch-bunch gun powder pyrotechnics of Hunter S. Thompson on Owl Farm.
Along with the preemption law, high-capacity magazines have been outlawed in Colorado since shortly after the Aurora theater shooting, albeit with another rather tough to enforce regulation. Just lie and tell them you had it before the ban, honestly. You can still by them retail in the state, you just have to assemble them yourself, which takes all of two minutes. With the city council also using a “Grandfather” caveat to appease gun activists who open-carry LARP rallied just a few weeks ago, even those dreaded “assault weapons” would never leave the city and there’s plenty of plausible deniability.
City council had an opportunity to put this on the ballot for the November election and opted not to, passing the resolution unanimously. The court challenges alone will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without speculating into voter demographics, there’s a pretty good chance it would’ve passed, and a weapons ban would appear to be at the mandate of voters, rather than a unilateral decision made by elected officials who have appeared to deliberately ignore public dissent on the issue. This might be the bigger problem, and once again Boulder operates as a microcosm to a larger issue.
It baffles me as to why, in what should be a wave election year repudiating the Trump administration, Democrats have picked one of the most longstanding divisive wedge issues to go after in the wake of the Parkland massacre. There’s an urgency, no doubt, but any political strategist would see the unyielding entrenchment on both sides and perhaps fight that battle under surer footing with less at stake. For, and pardon my parlance as I’m trying to illustrate a point, elected fucking bureaucrats to unanimously attempt to enact a weapons ban while bypassing democratic processes plays into the most hysterical fears of the right-wing and will be used in countless advertisements to media-illiterate voters.
Like it or not, no amount of dead kids is going to erase gun culture in the United States. That worm hasn’t turned, and no amount of liberal city stunt legislation is going to move any mountains on the issue. A bald girl that heard gunshots in a hallway hasn’t convinced Middle America that they don’t need a drum mag and a laser sight on their AR-15 to blow away javelinas on the ranch or whatever their daily practical example is. Acting like there’s a consensus among the public to make a grab for firearms and snootily behaving accordingly is a terrible shortsighted move politically, poor strategy, and shows how out-of-touch politicians trapped in their constituency bubbles can get.