Reading narrows the enforcement of new gun laws
Two controversial gun laws approved by the Colorado Legislature earlier this year will stay in place, at least for now.
State attorneys defending Colorado’s new gun laws Wednesday agreed to specific wording on how they would be enforced.
As a result, attorneys for plaintiffs in the case agreed to drop a motion for a preliminary injunction, which would stop enforcement of the controversial laws.
All that happened hours before a scheduled six-hour hearing when attorneys on both sides were to argue in U.S. District Court about why the laws should be enforced while the case continues.
“The Attorney General’s Office is pleased with the agreement that provides further clarity for plaintiffs, gun owners and dealers in Colorado,” Attorney General John Suthers said. “The agreement is consistent with the reasonable, narrow reading of the statute that we have advocated, and it now allows the court to expeditiously move to consideration of the Second Amendment implications of the statute.”
The case was filed in federal court by 55 Colorado sheriffs, including all four in the region, and several gun-related businesses and firearm-rights advocates, such as the free-market think tank, the Independence Institute.
In it, plaintiffs claim that two new Colorado laws that went into effect at the start of this month violate the right-to-bear-arms clause contained in the Second Amendment.
The new laws include a ban on gun magazines that contain 15 or more rounds of ammunition, and background checks on all gun purchases, including private ones.
The settlement makes clear how the 15-round ban would be enforced, Suthers said.
It calls for his office to amend a directive it sent to law enforcement on how the 15-round limit is to be enforced, specifically over questions of what “continuous possession” of magazines and “readily convertible” really mean.
Under the law, it is illegal to convert magazines to hold more rounds, but is unclear about magazines that may be adaptable to hold more bullets.
Under the settlement, both sides agreed that magazines with removable baseplates are not subject to the ban because expanding the magazines to hold more rounds is not the purpose of the plates.
Additionally, for those larger magazines that are grandfathered in and legal to possess by people who owned them before the law went into effect, “continuous possession” does not include the casual handing over of a magazine, such as to a gun dealer for cleaning or repairing.
Proponents of the new laws said plaintiffs’ agreeing to the settlement is an admission that they were wrong when they claimed the magazine ban was not enforceable.
“We’ve been saying all along that the law is enforceable, and now the sheriffs and the Independence Institute are conceding that we are right,” said Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora and a prime sponsor of the magazine law. “We can now go forward with implementation of a law that, over time, will make our neighborhoods safer and take military-style magazines off our streets.”