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Colorado Regents Reject Campus Carry Ban

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In a surprise move, the men and women in charge of the University of Colorado’s campuses rejected a proposal to ban concealed carry over the weekend, keeping the status quo in place… at least for another week or so.

The existing policy will stay in place, but CU added about two sentences acknowledging that the university will comply with all state laws on the matter. The revision was proposed following the passage of a state law in May that bans people with permits from concealing and carrying weapons in “sensitive spaces” including universities. 

State law supersedes any university policy, and the concealed carry ban will go into effect at all colleges in Colorado, including CU campuses, on July 1.

The carry ban, which also encompasses K-12 schools (though not armed school staffers in districts that choose to utilize them), was one of a handful of gun control measures signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis. Starting on July 1, concealed carry holders will no longer be able to carry on college and university campuses for the first time in about twenty years; a move that is unlikely to stop any violent crimes on campus, but will certainly make it much more difficult for students and staff members to protect themselves both on and off-campus. After all, if they can’t carry while they’re on campus, how are they supposed to carry on their way to class or on their way home? 

The regents began discussing the campus carry ban even before the governor signed the legislative ban into law, but after a request by regent Wanda James, who said she supported the prohibition. James has presented herself as a Second Amendment supporter in Colorado in the past. In fact, she co-founded a “virtual range” called 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club in Denver in 2020, although Colorado Springs Gazette columnist Jimmy Sengenberger recently reported that as of last June she’s no longer the registered agent associated with the business. 

James has reportedly owned guns for decades, but it’s unclear if she still co-owns the company or has a CCW permit. She did not respond to my emailed questions.

James often boasts publicly about her personal marijuana use. In 2019, she told the website xoNecole that she will “end the day and smoke a joint” with her assistant. In a Feb. 2018 interview with Cannabis Business Times, she called herself a “pothead” — echoed in her Nov. 2018 Facebook post stating, “I am a pothead. I get elevated daily.”

James pioneered legal cannabis, co-founding the nation’s first Black-owned dispensary in 2009 and legal recreational pot shop, Simply Pure, in 2015. She was tapped by both Govs. John Hickenlooper and Jared Polis to help shape pot policy.

One of James’ cannabis associates, Hashim Coates, is running for Arapahoe County Commission District 5 against State Sen. Rhonda Fields.

In December 2016, Coates was arrested for firing a 9mm pistol at a car carrying a male prostitute and three others, including two children. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor prohibited use of a weapon.

Coates held a CCW license, although he’s worked closely in the marijuana industry with James. He led Black, Brown & Red Badged (BBRB), an advocacy group James established to support minority-owned cannabis companies.

In 2021, Coates testified for a bill establishing Colorado’s cannabis loan program, which BBRB developed with Polis’s office. James’s Simply Pure secured an initial loan.

James has donated $500 to Coates’ campaign.

In 2019, after Simply Pure failed an underage compliance check, Coates emailed the office of Attorney General Phil Weiser, whose campaign Coates worked on — claiming racial bias by marijuana regulators. James alleged “bias and unfair targeting.”

Despite her extensive industry experience — suggesting she should have known better — James received a slap on the wrist from regulators. She signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance that merely pledged to follow the law, without the typical fine. Meanwhile, two of her employees lost their jobs and licenses.

Why is Wanda James so cavalier about the laws that impact her, yet she wants to deprive law-abiding citizens of exercising their constitutionally protected rights?

It’s a great question, and it’s a shame she didn’t reply to Sengenberger’s request for comment. I should note that I too reached out to James in the hopes of interviewing her on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co shortly after she made her recommendation to prohibit concealed carry on CU campuses, but like Sengenberger, neither James nor any of her associates ever replied. 

James was unsuccessful in getting her fellow regents to go along with the carry ban, but since state law supersedes the authority of the regents it really doesn’t matter. Still, I’d love to hear her explain why she believes someone who obtained their training at the range she co-founded is responsible enough to carry off campus, but poses a threat to themselves or others once they cross an invisible line and set foot on university property. Maybe I’m just not “elevated” enough to see the logic in her position, but from my perspective her stance (and that of the state legislature) just doesn’t make a lick of sense. 

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