New Gun Safety Laws Pass Important Tests

(July 10) – A legal challenge to one of the new gun safety laws now in effect in Colorado was blunted today when the plaintiffs effectively dropped their assertion that the law was vague and unenforceable.

A federal judge today declined to issue an injunction to halt Colorado’s new ban on the transfer of high-capacity magazines after receiving word that the attorneys from both sides had reached agreement about modifications to technical guidance issued by Attorney General John Suthers when the bill was originally signed.

The judge’s decision not to grant an injunction deals a serious blow to the plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs, including most of Colorado’s elected sheriffs and the Independence Institute, a Denver think tank, are challenging the new law in federal court and had asked for the injunction to block the law, which took effect July 1.

“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), the prime sponsor of the magazine limits 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.”

The plaintiffs’ attorneys hashed out an agreement with the state’s attorneys Tuesday to clarify the technical guidance previously issued by the attorney general to direct implementation of the law. The changes to the technical guidance include:

·        Magazines with a capacity of 15 or fewer rounds are not large-capacity magazines, regardless of whether they have a removable baseplate. Baseplates alone do not allow a magazine to be expanded without the purchase of additional equipment or permanent alterations.

·        The term “continuous possession” in the legislation does not require a large-capacity magazine owner to maintain literally continuous physical possession of the magazine. “Continuous possession” is only lost by a voluntary relinquishment of ownership of the magazine.

Also today, the Denver Post reported that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation has processed 171 background checks under another new law – also in effect since July 1 – closing the loophole that allowed private gun sales to occur without background checks, which made it easier for criminals to access weapons.

“I’m happy to see that the new law is going into effect as was intended,” said Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver), who sponsored the legislation with Rep. Fields. “Every private sale background check demonstrates that the law is effective and will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals while not inhibiting law-abiding Coloradans’ ability to buy and sell firearms.”

News on the implementation of both laws comes a little more than a week before the anniversary of the mass shootings at an Aurora movie theater.

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