Boulder police say they made a decision to not enforce the city's open carry restrictions during a recent protest because doing so might have escalated the situation.
The Daily Camera reports that residents rallied Saturday afternoon in opposition to the City Council's proposed ban on assault weapons. Currently, it's illegal in Boulder to openly carry a firearm unless it's held in a carrying case. But some people at the protest ignored the city law by walking around with rifles slung over their shoulders.
A police statement from city attorney Tom Carr said that "to avoid conflict during protests, the police sometimes make a tactical decision not to enforce a particular law if enforcement would create more conflict."
The public information officer for Boulder Police and Fire Departments said the departments' primary job is to protect public safety.
"Public safety is our number one priority," said Shannon Aulabaugh, the public information officer for Boulder Police and Fire Departments. "We work extremely hard to balance the first amendment rights of protesters with the need for public safety. The police department must take a content neutral approach."
Jason Boros, the main organizer for Saturday's protest, said Boulder PD has made a similar decision before.
"I'm going to point out the Black Lives Matter protest where police did not interfere with the shutting down of a highway even though that was blatantly illegal and they made the same choice in that situation because they knew that doing so would escalate a situation where there's a potential for danger if it is escalated," Boros said.
Boulder City Council is set to talk about the proposed ban on assault weapons again on May 1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.