Colorado sheriffs sue to block new gun-control laws

DENVER Fri May 17, 2013 11:46pm EDT

A man holds a gun in the exhibit hall of the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site for the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Houston, Texas May 3, 2013. . REUTERS/Adrees Latif

A man holds a gun in the exhibit hall of the George R. Brown Convention Center, the site for the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Houston, Texas May 3, 2013. .

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

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DENVER (Reuters) - A group of Colorado county sheriffs, angry about two new state gun control laws passed in the wake of last year's mass shootings in Connecticut and Colorado, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday seeking to block the laws from going into effect.

The two laws, passed by the state's Democratic-controlled legislature with scant Republican support, ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and require background checks for all private gun sales and transfers.

All but 10 of the state's 64 county sheriffs signed on to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver. In their complaint, the sheriffs allege the new laws, which go into effect July 1, severely restrict citizens' constitutional right to own and bear arms.

The sheriffs, who in Colorado are elected, also complained that they were operating under tight budgets and did not have the money or manpower to enforce the new laws.

"They (the sheriffs) cannot expend these resources to conduct investigations that would be necessary to monitor compliance," the lawsuit said.

The bills were introduced in response to a shooting spree that killed 12 people at a suburban Denver movie theater last July and the slaying of 20 children and six adults at an elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

Connecticut and New York also have passed stricter gun laws in the wake of the shootings. The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, has announced plans to challenge the new gun control laws in all three states.


Democratic state Senator Mary Hodge, who sponsored the magazine-limit bill, blasted the sheriffs and said the restrictions were reasonable public-safety measures.

"We can't just sit by and do nothing while first-graders and moviegoers are being mowed down in one fell swoop with weapons equipped with large-capacity magazines," Hodge said in a statement.

Joining the sheriffs in the lawsuit are a number of gun-rights organizations and a disabled gun owners group, who say that magazine limits would restrict their ability to defend themselves in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bars discrimination against the disabled.

"Disabilities make it difficult to quickly change magazines under the stress of a home invasion," the lawsuit said.

Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who signed the bills into law, is named as the defendant in the lawsuit. His office had no immediate comment.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, said in a statement that his role "will be to get court rulings on the legality of various aspects of the legislation as expeditiously as possible."

"Colorado citizens, and law-abiding gun owners in particular, deserve such clarification," said Suthers, who did not publicly oppose the two bills when they were debated in the legislature.

Separately, a Colorado pro-gun group, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, said it was circulating a petition to recall the president of the state Senate, Democrat John Morse, because of his support for gun control measures.

Morse, a former police officer, said he would likely face a recall election later this year as a result.

"If they are successful in removing the Senate president in Colorado, it will have a chilling effect on anyone who takes them on but if they fail they will be exposed for the paper tiger they should be," he said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Philip Barbara and Bill Trott)

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Comments (7)
arttie wrote:
What a bunch of cry babies! No money to enforce the new laws? Bull! They never go out and start enforcing laws anyway! they wait until someone is caught breaking the law. As for the disability complaint ….. bull again. If you can’t hit an intruder with less than 15 rounds you shouldn’t be allowed to own a baseball bat! There is absolutely no good reason to have an assault weapon that needs a magazine larger than 15 rounds. What these people are really concerned about and not saying, is that they will lose the joy of bragging rights, oh, that and going out with all their drunk buddies to go shoot up a target or two. I own rifles, many. I do not need any large capacity magazines, nor do I NEED an assault weapon. My rifles are all registered. I target shoot, I do not hunt. I would never belong to an organization that supports the ownership of assault weapons. NRA sucks! Assault weapons and their owners suck. Parents who buy rifles for a 7 year old so that they can accidentally shoot and kill a three year old sister suck.

May 17, 2013 11:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
hotceller wrote:
“arttie” has it right in spades! These idiots think the 2nd Amend. should be interpreted as it was by a few dumb-witted federal judges a number of years ago that gave the “right” to bear arms to any breathing person.(However, judges do make mistakes as evidenced by two Supremes who are now saying that the Gore-Bush decision was wrong and Bush should not have been elected president). Had these earlier judges understood the real intent of the 2nd, the NRA would be carrying their muskets to weekend meetings of the local militia preparing for the next revolution against the government; every nut with any perceived grievance could keep the gun makers, the true culprits in this this discussion, in high pofits for years. Some decisions by the Supremes do indeed interpret the Constitution as it applies to current situations; thus, as “arrtie” says, do you really need an assault rifle to defend yourself or your home, or to kill a deer for dinner when all you would have left is shredded meat?? No, “arttie” had it right all the way.

May 18, 2013 3:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
spagester wrote:
No bias in this article. (Sarcasm)

The author alleges the sheriffs are angry but the provides nothing to substantiate the claim. I doubt the sheriffs are angry and just acting out, most likely they are calmly expressing legitimate concerns, as they seek a lawful remedy.

The angry ones are those who are rightfully angered over gun violence and irrationally drafted and voted in laws that will not help a thing.

The only help will come at the parental level. Parents need to provide healthy, moral, loving, two parent homes. Most of those who are unstable enough to commit murder did not come from a stable home. Why are the democrats addressing the cause?

May 18, 2013 7:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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