BREAKING: Judge Tosses Lawsuit Against Colorado Gun Laws


Gov. John Hickenlooper signs gun safety legislation, March 20, 2013.
Photo via AP's Ivan Moreno

UPDATE #3: From Gov. John Hickenlooper via AP/9NEWS:

The judge today offered a thorough and reasoned opinion and recognized that the state's new gun laws do not unduly burden anyone's Second Amendment rights. We appreciate the good work that the Attorney General's team did to represent the state and defend the law.

USA TODAY's Michael Winter recaps background our readers know well:

The state's Democratic-majority legislature passed the measures last year in reaction to the 2012 mass killings at a Denver-area movie theater and the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In a backlash by voters, two Democratic senators subsequently were recalled and a third resigned.

In her 50-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger wrote "evidence shows that large-capacity magazines are frequently used in gun violence and mass shootings, and that often a shooter will shoot continuously until a weapon jams or the shooter runs out of ammunition."

"Most experts agree that the size of a magazine correlates to the number of rounds that are fired in both an offensive and defensive capacity," she added.

But the plaintiffs — gun owners, advocates, manufacturers and sheriffs — had presented no evidence that someone's ability "to defend him or herself is seriously diminished if magazines are limited," Krieger declared. [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE #2: Read Chief Judge Marcia Krieger's decision in its entirety here.

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UPDATE: Statement from the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence:

“Today is an important day in the fight to keep our communities and families safe from gun violence,” said Rita Schweitz, co-chair of the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence. “Colorado’s universal background checks law is a common-sense solution to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and we now have the Court’s validation of what we have asserted from the outset – these laws do not violate anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights.”
 
Dave Hoover, whose nephew AJ Boik was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting, was grateful for the Judge’s decision to uphold Colorado’s high-capacity magazine limit. “As I have said repeatedly, no one is losing their rights by having to reload their gun, but with this simple measure we can reduce the number of victims killed in mass shootings. And as someone who has worked in law enforcement here in Colorado for over 30 years, I can tell you that limiting high-capacity magazines is a significant step in protecting our law enforcement officers in the field.”
 
The challenge to the state’s gun laws was funded by the Independence Institute and initially brought by a number of Colorado Sheriffs who claimed the laws were unconstitutional and un-enforceable. They were ultimately dismissed from the lawsuit for lack of standing.
 
Eileen McCarron, president of Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund, expressed frustration at the waste of time and resources spent to bring this lawsuit to fruition. “This was a politically-motivated lawsuit that has been grasping at straws from day one. These laws are reasonable protections against gun violence that many states have adopted and have repeatedly passed the test of constitutionality.”

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FOX 31's Eli Stokols breaks the news this afternoon:

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit aimed at overturning Colorado’s new gun laws, upholding the expansion of background checks on private gun sales and transfers and the ban on magazines of more than 15 rounds, FOX31 Denver is first to report.

“The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF THE DEFENDANT on all claims and to close this case,” reads the final ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger…

In Krieger’s view, neither the magazine ban nor the background check expansion unreasonably burden gun owners or sellers.

We'll update with additional coverage and statements shortly.

29 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. nota33 says:

    GREAT NEWS for Colorado. Always a great moment when the out of tough right wing gun nuts lose.

  2. DawnPatrol says:

    Sweet! This'll drive the gunorrheas and ammosexuals even MORE stark raving mad!

  3. nota33 says:

    I cannot wait until the right wingers claim this judge was an activist democratic judge. FACT She's a republican who was nominated by George W. Bush in 2001.

  4. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    I'm pretty happy about this ruling. If the judge has thrown it out, they can't appeal, right?

    Also, Hickenlooper? That whole awkward apology thing? Kind of pointless now, right?

    I like the wording on the  ruling, too:

    On the magazine ban:

    “It is clear from the legislative history that the General Assembly adopted the 15-round restriction in the effort to balance the ability of individuals to lawfully use semiautomatic weapons in self-defense, while limiting the capability of unlawful shooters to fire repeatedly. It considered a more restrictive limit of 12 rounds, but rejected that at the request of citizens and law enforcement officials. Instead, it chose the 15-round limit based on evidence that officers of the numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies all successfully use magazines with 15 or fewer rounds.

    “Whether adoption of a fifteen-round magazinelimit is a sound public policy or a perfect fit with the General Assembly’s objective to improve publicsafety is not the question before this Court.”

    On the background check expansion:

    “It does not prevent a person otherwise permitted to obtain a firearm from acquiring one, nor subject that person to any greater burdens than he or she would face if acquiring the weapon commercially. Nothing in the Second Amendment can be read to suggest that a permissible burden on commercial sales of firearms cannot similarly be extended to apply to those acquiring firearms by loan.

    “The evidence shows that there are more than 600 firearms dealers in Colorado that are actively performing private checks, and that, currently, it takes an average of less than fifteen minutes for a check to be processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

    On the law’s 72-hour transfer window before mandatory reporting:

    “The Court perceives this argument to be one of preferred policy. The Court’s role in this case is to determine whether § 18-12-112 impermissibly burdens protected Second Amendment rights. What the legislature chooses to exempt from the statute’s requirements is a determination that is left solely to the legislature. The legislature was free to conclude, as it did, that 72 hours would be an adequate period of time to permittransfers without background checks while ensuring that sham loans would not occur beyond that timeframe. Whether or not the legislature’s policy decision was wise or warranted is not a question properly presented to this Court.”

    So, no undue burden on gun owners or gun sellers, nobody's coming after their guns, and the Second Amendment is just fine. I wish we'd had this ruling before the recall elections – although maybe it wouldn't have made a difference…

  5. Diogenesdemar says:

    I'm gonna' celebrate this ruling tonight — by not taking a firearm with me to my favorite watering hole!

  6. Ralphie says:

    I wonder when Hick is going to apologize for it?

  7. Denver Yankee says:

    The ruling is common sense and legally sound, which don't always coincide.  It is exactly what the Independence Institute and David Kopel should have advised the plaintiffs at the very beginning.  Since most Colorado sheriffs are among the plaintiffs, that means taxpayer money has been wasted to enrich the above-named charlatans.  Hopefully at least some of the sheriffs will be held accountable.

    • kickshot says:

      The sheriffs were ruled to not have standing in their official capacity early on.

    • Tom says:

      The most vocal sheriffs are heading for the exits– Cooke is running for state senate and Maketa has umm… other problems. Kopel has vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary, but he may have to find some other uniformed spokesmodels to pose with. He calls it pro-bono work, so his NRA funding is apparently for something else.

      • Denver Yankee says:

        NRA money is blood money and those who take it deserve a special place in Hell.

        Sheriff Cooke was on TV last night, and paraphrasing his comments he said that when the gun control laws were passed he had said they were unenforceable and that he would not enforce them.  So far, so good.  Then he went on to say that the proof they were unenforceable is that not a single arrest has been made.  Obviously a man with the requisite intellect to be a successful Colorado Republican politico.

  8. gertie97 says:

    I doubt any sheriff will suffer a whit politically. Their gun-nutty constituents are crazier than they are.

     

  9. doremi says:

    In the picture, Gov. Hickenlooper is speaking to Karina Vargas, who was shot and seriously injured (paralyzed and wheel-chair bound) when she was shot outside Central High School a number of years ago. Ms. Vargas has often gone to extra efforts to speak for sane gun laws.

    Also in the picture:

    Lonnie and Sandy Phillips.  The lost their daughter at the Aurora Theater shooting and came up from San Antonio for the signing of the bills.

    Jane Doughterty, whose sister was the psychologist killed at Sandy Hook school.

    Tom Mauser (hidden by Jane Dougherty, who lost his son at Columbine High School and has worked tirelessly for stronger gun laws in Colorado and nationally since April  20, 1999.

  10. Craig says:

    This ruling was predictable and based upon solid precedent.  It was only Repubican lies which gave this lawsuit any creedence at all.  This lawsuit was never serious and I hope that the judge will assess attorneys' fees and costs against the sheriffs and other plaintiffs who brought this meritless lawsuit.  At least then the citizens of Colorado wouldn't be out of pocket for defending this nonsense.  And perhaps if the sheriff's had to pay out of pocket for their non-sense, they will get the message.  The Second Amendment isn't aboslute, as the Supreme Court has said ad nauseaum.  All of these restrictions had been approved in other courts before.  Hopefully the Colorado public will take anything these idiots say with a grain of salt in the future.  So much for an unconstitutional infringement on their rights.  So sayeth a Bush judge.

  11. dustpuppydustpuppy says:

    It pretty much renders RMGO toothless now.

    And makes Republicans continue to look stupid.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      You really do live in a dream world, pup ?!?

      This ruling, just like any other ruling, means that Dudley will be twisting it for some more fundraising /call-to-arms progpoganda.  What happens in the real world has absolutely no effect on the RMGunsters — they not at all a reality-based, or reality-driven, organization.

      As for the Republicans – it's not their dresses, but their enormous asses, that makes their butts look big . . .  

      • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

        And in the words of a long-time friend of mine they have a tendency to parade around with those enormous asses held higher than their faces.I believe that's one thing that makes life difficult for them but they refuse to learn. I'll have to read the decision but anything that makes life harder on the gunhumpers appeals to me.

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