Boulder, Colorado’s ban on modern sporting rifles and magazines that can hold more than ten rounds constitutes a violation of the state’s firearm pre-emption laws, the city’s district judge decided Friday. The local law will become null and void in the near future.
The gun and magazine ban enacted by the Boulder City Council in the summer of 2018 was challenged by multiple lawsuits.
This particular case was brought to light by two Boulder residents challenging the authority of the City Council’s right to enact or enforce the gun ban hinging on the fact that the state legislature in Colorado reserves the right to set gun laws in the state.
Local Counties Cannot Overrule State Law
The state’s state pre-emptions statute bars localities from passing any law “Prohibiting the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm that a person may lawfully sell, purchase, or possess under state or federal law.”
In the case of Boulder, the city attempted to ban the possession of some of the most commonly owned arms in the country. In his ruling, Judge Andrew Hartman quashed the law and took it a step further – granting a permanent injunction which prevents the city from making any attempt to enforce this ridiculous measure.
The judge upheld that the plaintiffs have the ground to sue the city observing, “Plaintiffs are presently being injured by this sale and transfer ban.”
Hartman linked the “legally cognizable interest, namely, their right to possess firearms in defense of home, person, and property” to the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 2, Section 13 of the Colorado Constitution. The latter stipulates: “The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question.”
He also dismissed claims that as a home rule city, Boulder has the right to regulate firearms in a stricter fashion than the city because such weapons “pose a special danger to a demographically unique Boulder.” The latter referred to a 2006 Colorado Supreme Court case upholding a Denver District Court ruling on Denver’s home rule power to ban firm arms was reasonable in exercising the city police power which gave Boulder the same right to implement.
Hartman argued that the Denver case was “non-binding” and has been overruled by two state Supreme Court cases involving local control of oil and gas operations that clarified the relationship between local governments and the state regarding state preemption laws.
The main issue is whether the issue is of statewide, local, or mixed state and local concern. The judge also ruled that on account of the state comprehensively regulating firearms, including the enactment of the pre-emption statute, the remains of mixed state and local concern. The state pre-emption law prevails.
Complete Colorado observes that Boulder can appeal against the judge’s decision to the Colorado State Supreme and it’s well within their right taken into account that they cite the 2006 case where the state highest court upheld a ban on modern sporting rifles.
Complete Colorado asserts that the specific federal case has been “on hold under federal rules of the procedure until the state law issues over home rule versus state pre-emption were settled.” The matter likely remains on hold until the city of Boulder decides as to whether or not to appeal Hartman’s decision.
The positive news remains that Boulder’s gun and magazine ban has been put on the ice where the logical stand for Coloradans is to observe the stand of local legislators on the issue. It is too late in this year’s session to file new legislation but gun control activists and anti-gun politicians may mount an attack on the state’s firearm pre-emption laws as their main priority in 2022.
Democrats in the state may feel compelled to pass restrictions on the rights of gun owners but they may decide on their ability to make pre-emption a raging campaign in next year’s election by giving the right to a city like Boulder to implement gun bans. This lawsuit may be over depending on Boulder’s appeal, still, it doesn’t signal the end of anti-gun attacks reserving the right to possess some of the most commonly-owned arms and accessories in the United States.