Gun Groups and Local Sheriffs Challenge Colorado Magazine Ban

Thomas DiGennaro | @tom.digennaro

In 2013, the state of Colorado enacted a ban on magazines with a capacity of over 15 rounds. The sale, transfer, and possession of “large capacity magazines” became illegal. This legislation came in wake of the Aurora Theatre and Sandy Hook shooting. The state legislature passed this ban, which then-governor John Hickenlooper added his signature to. The ban became law on July 1st, 2013.

Judicial Opposition

The National Association for Gun Rights, along with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, challenged the ban in the courts. State district courts ruled the law to be constitutional. The Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled that the law is constitutional.

The Colorado State Supreme Court is again going to hear NAGR and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ case in Sternberg v. Colorado. On June 5th, 2019, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) filed a brief of amicus curiae with the Colorado Supreme Court. The Second Amendment Foundation partnered with FPC and FPF in this filing.

A quote from FPC legal scholar Joseph Greenlee reads

“Bans on modern-day firearms are often rationalized by the argument that federal and state founders could not have envisioned today’s guns. “Our brief shows that the framers of Colorado’s constitution were intimately familiar with firearms capable of firing more than 15 rounds, and that they intended to protect them through an exceptionally strong arms provision in the state constitution.”

Executive Opposition

In addition to the judicial battle, multiple sheriffs in Colorado have also expressed their refusal to enforce such bans on magazines. 30 plus sheriffs even signed onto the filings challenging the ban. 

“Sheriffs and deputies possess standard capacity magazines — up to about 20 rounds for handguns, and 30 rounds for rifles — for the same reason that law-abiding citizens should: they are best for lawful defense of self and others.”

The Argument for Colorado’s Magazine Ban

In the wake of numerous mass shootings where the gunman used a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable 30 round magazine, many called for regulation. The argument is often made that 30 round magazines are not necessary for hunting or home defense. Tom Mauser, a gun control advocate and father of a Columbine victim supports a ban on magazines over a certain capacity. “We make it too easy to mow people down”, he says.

The Rebuttal

The sheriffs said when people have less reserve ammunition, they fire fewer shots in self-defense, which may increase the chance that they will be injured. There is also the obvious issue with banning a piece of property that would turn thousands into fellons for mere ownership, not to mention issues with confiscation and enforcement.

The case will likely be heard before the conclusion of 2019, so stay tuned for the legal battle.


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