Led by Democrats in the statehouse and a Democrat in the governor’s office, Colorado banned “high-capacity” gun magazines after supporters claimed it would cut down on mass shootings.
Since the ban in 2013, the state has seen at least five shootings at schools, stores or parking lots, including the recent STEM school shooting.
The effectiveness of the law, however, isn’t even a consideration for those who have sued the state over the restriction.
The fact is, according to a brief filed in the case with the state Supreme Court, that the rule violates keep-and-bear-arms provisions in both the state and the U.S. constitutions.
The Firearms Policy Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Millennial Policy Center and the Second Amendment Foundation recently filed their comments in Sternberg v. Colorado.
The Colorado General Assembly adopted a ban on so-called “large capacity ammunition magazines” as part of a sweeping gun control push in 2013.
“This is an important case because it is testing state gun laws against Colorado’s strong right-to-keep-and-bear-arms state constitutional provision,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “Our brief provides a historical examination of why the right was specifically protected by the state constitution, and applies that to today’s context.”
The brief, prepared by noted Second Amendment civil rights attorney Joseph Greenlee, explains the context surrounding the state’s claim that the writers of the state constitution had no concept of “rapid fire repeating rifles.”
“Anti-gunners are constantly arguing that there is no historical support for protecting modern repeating firearms,” he said, “and our brief provides proof that repeating rifles capable of holding 15 or more cartridges were in existence long before Colorado became a state in 1876. The framers of Colorado’s constitution knew exactly what they were doing.
“Frankly,” Gottlieb stated, “joining in this brief has been a delight, not only because we enjoy working with our colleagues, but also because it offers SAF an opportunity to add a historical perspective to this discussion.”
The state barred the sale, possession or transfer of “large-capacity” magazines after July 1, 2013.
“Bans on modern-day firearms are often rationalized by the argument that federal and state founders could not have envisioned today’s guns,” said Greenlee. “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.”
Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, added: “Firearms that could hold 15 or more rounds of ammunition pre-date even the founding of Colorado as a state. Such firearms and magazines are constitutionally protected today, period. Time and technological evolution do not change the fundamental nature or the scope of constitutional rights against government infringement.”