Federal judge upholds Colorado gun restrictions; Sheriffs plan to appeal

Photo: Gun ammo (iStock)

Sheriffs and other gun rights advocates say they will appeal a federal court ruling upholding Colorado's new guns laws.

A federal judge upheld those restrictions that limit the size of ammunition magazines and expand background checks on firearms sold online and between private parties.

In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger said both laws are constitutional and that they don't infringe on individuals' right to bear arms.

The judge further said that limiting magazine sizes doesn't obstruct individuals' ability to protect themselves and that the expansion of background checks "is no more severe" than the requirements already in place before the new law.

The county sheriffs who were part of a lawsuit challenging the new laws vow to continue their fight.

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke spoke on their behalf at a news conference this Thursday afternoon.

"While we respect the judge’s ruling today, we believe that is plainly wrong on the law and on the facts," Cooke said. "We will take this case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and if necessary to the United States Supreme Court.”

Cooke says few law enforcement agencies are enforcing the new laws because they are impractical.

He says the court ruling won’t change that.

Attorney General John W. Suthers says his office fully expects the case to be appealed and looks forward to final resolution of the issues as soon as possible.

Attorney General John W. Suthers issued a statement shortly after the ruling was announced.

“Like Judge Krieger, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office has never asserted that the laws in question are good, wise or sound policy,” Suthers wrote. “As it does in all cases, the AG’s Office has fulfilled its responsibility to defend the constitutionality of the Colorado law in question."

Without Republican support, Democrats passed the laws last year in response to two mass shootings in 2012, one at an Aurora movie theater outside Denver and the other at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.

In reaction, voters unhappy with the new laws organized recall campaigns against Senator Angela Giron and then-state Senate President John Morse, both Democrats, for their sponsorship of the legislation.

Morse says he knew the court would make this decision, because, he says the new laws don’t come close to violating the Second Amendment.

“The sheriffs and others have just been using misinformation to convince people that [the laws did violate the constitution] and so it’s certainly nice to have the chief judge in the federal court in the Denver district to say, 'yeah, there’s no there, there'.” Morse said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.