Fifty-four of Colorado’s 64 sheriffs and 20 other plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to overturn two of the four gun control measures signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper in March. When the plaintiffs announced the lawsuit on May 17 in Denver’s Independence Institute’s offices, the media were well represented. According to John Caldera, the institute’s president, the lobby was “overflowing with microphones, cameras and news reporters … quite literally reporters were spilling out of our front door ... I've never seen anything like it.”
The 55-page complaint alleges that the two contested laws are unconstitutional under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments and under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The laws include: HB 1224, which prohibits the possession, sale, or transfer of magazines holding more than 15 rounds; and HB 1229, which requires all sellers of firearms, including private sales between individuals, to obtain a background check.
In addition to 54 of Colorado’s sheriffs, the plaintiffs include the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Magpul Industries, USA Liberty Arms, Women for Concealed Carry, Specialty Sports & Supply, and the Colorado Shooting Association. They contend that the two laws are not only unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s rulings in Heller and McDonald but that they they place impossible difficulties upon the sheriffs who will be called upon to enforce the laws when they become effective on July 1.
Attorney General John Suthers, who remained strangely neutral during the legislative debates leading up to passage of the bills, said his office would move “as expeditiously as possible” with the suit and that “Colorado citizens, and law-abiding gun owners in particular, deserve such clarification.” But he studiously avoided saying whether the laws in his or his office’s opinion were unconstitutional. And the County Sheriffs of Colorado association — despite the stand taken by the great majority of the sheriffs in the state — remained absent from both the public announcement on May 17 and in joining with the other plaintiffs in the suit.
In its complaint the lawsuit, drawn up with the help of constitutional scholar and research director for the institute David Kopel, began:
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Photo of Colorado sheriffs at the May 17 announcement: AP Images