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Two new Colorado laws address gun control: reasonable safeguards or violations of the Second Amendment?

A recent case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado highlights the endless tug of war between decreasing gun violence and upholding the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Colorado is in a unique position to be a testing ground for the balancing of the two seemingly competing goals: the state has been the site of two horrific mass murders perpetrated with guns (Columbine and Aurora), but it has a long history of people owning and using guns to defend themselves and their property.  

In March 2013, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper signed two statutes into law. Your Denver personal injury attorney explains that the new laws ban the sale of high-capacity magazines (above 15 rounds), and require universal background checks before the sale or transfer of a gun. Gun-rights advocates sued Governor Hickenlooper, claiming that the laws violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In her ruling handed down June 26, 2014, the Judge held that the laws do not violate the Constitution or the ADA. The Judge determined that the mandatory background checks and ban on high-capacity magazines were modest restrictions to effect a worthwhile policy of the legislature, namely that a third mass shooting be prevented. The laws do not unduly burden a person’s ability to own a gun, and therefore the laws were upheld as constitutional.

Unfortunately, the court’s ruling has not quieted the controversy surrounding the laws. The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal the court’s ruling. Pro-gun advocates insist that requiring background checks for sales and transfers of guns makes it unnecessarily difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy, loan, and store guns, while criminals obtaining guns will not comply with the law anyway. Banning high-capacity magazines only favors criminals, they argue, because they know how to reload faster than people simply trying to defend themselves. But Dave Hoover, a Lakewood police officer whose nephew was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, supports the ban on high-capacity magazines, saying it “can reduce the number of victims killed in mass shootings” and “protect law enforcement officers in the field.” Additionally, as your Denver personal injury attorney points out, many people on both sides of the issue support mandatory background checks–including checks on transfers–in an attempt to avoid people with criminal records obtaining obtaining guns.  

The District Court’s ruling should be seen in the context of two recent actions regarding firearms in Colorado. One is Denver’s prohibition of the open carry of firearms and the unlicensed open car carry of firearms that went into effect in March of this year. The second is the opinion of the Colorado Supreme Court striking down Colorado University’s ban of firearms on its campus, also in March of this year.  Once again, the tug of war between a desire to decrease gun violence and a need to protect people’s constitutional rights continues.  

For more information on the status of firearm regulations in Denver and the state of Colorado, contact your Denver personal injury attorney at Levine Law.

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