The right to bear arms " in Aspen |

The right to bear arms " in Aspen

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Local reaction was mixed Friday after Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold an individual’s Second Amendment right to bear firearms.

The ruling, which overturned strict gun-control laws in Washington, D.C., is the first Supreme Court decision on the oft-debated issue.

And while many say the decision paves the way for further state decisions freeing up a person’s ability to own and carry firearms, Colorado laws and local statutes will be untouched, according to local law enforcement officials.

Municipal ordinance in the city of Aspen bars shooting firearms within city limits (the same code also bans throwing stones, hucking snowballs and shooting missiles), according to Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor.

Thursday’s ruling simply supports laws already on the books in Colorado, Pryor said.

His department receives the occasional call about a person carrying a sidearm on Aspen streets, and police officers respond immediately, but as long as gun owner is licensed, he or she are well within their rights, Pryor said.

And some in Colorado who have taken a course and been approved by their local sheriff can carry a concealed weapon.

“I don’t see that much of a change in business,” Pryor said of Thursday’s decision.

Mathew Bayley is a licensed firearms instructor from Eagle County who runs shooting courses in the Roaring Fork Valley. He said the Supreme Court decision sets an important precedent.

“It’s great news for gun owners,” Bayley said. “Generally speaking in Colorado, having a loaded ready gun in your house for protection violates no restrictions.”

He advocates training and safe gun use by responsible residents and said the ruling protects at least the right to have a gun in one’s home.

“It affirms the right that Coloradoans already have,” Bayley said. “And it makes it highly unlikely to lose those rights in the next 100 years.”

He pointed to a case in the late 1970s when Washington, D.C., police officers were exonerated for not responding to a violent crime in someone’s home.

“You can’t have guns in your house, and the cops won’t come and help you?” asked an incredulous Bayley. “Now does that sound insane or what?”

Bayley said Thursday’s decision supports his personal belief that legally armed citizens don’t commit violent crimes, they prevent them.

But some question the Supreme Court move.

“My feeling is that the recent decision by the Supreme Court seems very unfortunate,” said Camilla Auger, chairman of the Pitkin County Democratic Party. “Clearly we need to have a different set of rules and requirements for inner city areas and major city areas than we do for more rural areas.”

Auger supports hunting in rural areas, and said many of her friends hunt, but she said that regulating handguns and concealed weapons in urban areas is a different matter.

“I think those laws would not be appropriate for here,” Auger said about restrictions shot down by the Supreme Court. “But certainly for Washington, D.C., of all places, I think greater rules would certainly apply.”

Even the police chief, a native of England, said he’s always been puzzled by the American Constitutional right to bear arms.

Pryor grew up on a farm and said in many cases rifles and handguns are important tools in rural areas, then added, “But the handgun thing was alien to me and still is.”