Gun Owners are Challenging Colorado’s High-Capacity Magazine Ban in Court

Over the past decade, Colorado has witnessed its gun policies go in a sharply anti-gun direction.

Following the Aurora mass shooting of 2012, Colorado elected officials passed a slew of gun control bills in 2013. Of note, the Colorado state legislature adopted a prohibition on the purchase and sale of “high-capacity” magazines. As Cam Edwards observed, such a ban would cover “ammunition magazines that can accept more than 15 rounds.”

This ban was accompanied by the passage of a “universal background check”.  Despite the passage of broad-based gun control bills, Colorado’s crime rates have not been impacted in the slightest.   

The good news is that this magazine ban could be repealed in the courts. The National Foundation for Gun Rights and two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on August 2, 2022 challenging the constitutionality of this law. The parties in question sought a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction against the magazine ban. 

NFGR is the legal arm of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Since the United States Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which overturned the state of New York’s and New York City’s handgun licensing systems, RMGO has pounced on this decision to get the federal courts to overturn Colorado’s magazine prohibition. 

Taylor Rhodes, RMGO’s executive director, declared that the Bruen decision gives gun owners the ability to file federal lawsuits targeting other unconstitutional gun laws at the state and local level. 

Second Amendment activists argue that many gun control laws affecting gun ownership and carrying firearms in public for the purpose of self-defense are now unconstitutional in the post-Bruen legal order. 

“We've been given the golden ticket to dismantle all of these gun control laws, not only at the local level, but on the state level as well,” Rhodes said. “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners filed the first two lawsuits in post-Bruen America. We're effectively setting precedent for generations to come, not only in Colorado, but potentially across America.”

“We’ve known for years that the (magazine ban) is an atrocious infringement against our Second Amendment freedoms,” declared Dudley Brown, president of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. “The Bruen decision gave us a 4-ton wrecking ball to dismantle Colorado’s gun control laws – and we’re going to wipe out every unconstitutional law that stands in the way of law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment rights.”

RMGO previously challenged Colorado’s magazine ban law in the state court in 2020. However, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the ban that same year.

However, fortune could be on the side of gun owners this time around. For one, the federal courts appear to be more sympathetic to gun owners these days. Ideally, state governments would be repealing whatever gun control laws are on the books.

That being said, we live in a time of mass polarization where if a state goes blue, it will be thoroughly anti-gun. Worse yet, if the state becomes a de facto one-party state, it becomes impossible for pro-gun Republicans to take back power or at least influence legislative outcomes. As a result, gun owners in blue states have to fall back on the courts for any type of change to take place. 

That’s politics for you. Often, one has to adapt and get creative depending on the circumstances. Given the wins gun owners have scored in the courts, it makes sense to have litigation as a tool in every gun organization’s political toolbox. 

Through a balanced use of gun control nullification, state legislative operations, and litigation, gun owners could gradually restore gun rights nationwide. Obviously, to reach that destination will require a lot of work. 

It’s best that we get legislative activism started today if we want this pro-Second Amendment vision become a reality.

José Niño is a freelance writer and political analyst based in Austin, Texas. Contact him via Facebook  or Twitter. Get his premium newsletter on political strategy here. Subscribe to his Substack here.  

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