DENVER (TIP): Colorado gun laws that mandate background checks on private sales and limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds are constitutional, federal judge Marcia Krieger ruled Thursday, June 26. 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.
“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”, Judge Marcia Kriege wrote. The plaintiffs argued that despite exemptions for temporary loans between private parties, expanded background checks would make it legally difficult for friends or neighbors to loan firearm for protection or storage. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said that like Krieger, his office “has never asserted that the laws in question are good, wise or sound policy,” but that he was obligated to defend their constitutionality.
The Colorado State Shooting Association called the ruling “disappointing on many levels,” and said an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected. The association said Krieger’s opinion “ignores or gives short-shrift” to many of the plaintiffs’ arguments, and “seemingly misunderstands those that are addressed.” “The significance of the Second Amendment as a core portion of the Bill of Rights and its importance has virtually no reference in the decision,” the group said in a statement.
“Most noteworthy was the court’s focus on the important government interest at hand while ignoring the complete absence of support for same in the legislative record.” Noting the lawmakers who were ousted, the organization said it is “time to throw out each and every legislator that voted for these laws, and the governor that signed them.”