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Colorado Supreme Court Upholds 2013 Magazine Ban

Monday, July 6, 2020

Colorado Supreme Court Upholds 2013 Magazine Ban

In 2013, Colorado enacted House Bill 13-1224, which made it a crime, with some exceptions, to sell, transfer, or possess any “large-capacity magazine”after July 1, 2013. A “large-capacity magazine”meant any “fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip, or similar device capable of accepting, or that is designed to be readily converted to accept, more than fifteen rounds of ammunition.”

Several gun rights organizations challenged the ban as an infringement on the right to bear arms protected by the Colorado Constitution. They argued, among other things, that HB 1224 had an excessively broad scope because it reached lawful activities that were commonly engaged in by responsible citizens. Further, the actual effect of the “designed to be readily converted”language was to ban almost all magazines with a removable floor plate or base pad, as this inherently created the possibility that the magazine could be converted to hold more than the maximum 15 rounds.

The parties agreed that prior to the ban, the number of magazines in Colorado with a capacity greater than 15 rounds was “in the millions,”that such magazines were not unusual or uncommon in Colorado, and that semi-automatic guns with detachable magazines holding more than 15 rounds were frequently used in the state for multiple legitimate purposes, including defense of the home.

The case proceeded through many hearings and appeals. In late 2018, the Colorado Court of Appeals, applying a “reasonable exercise”standard (that the state may regulate the exercise of the right to bear arms under its inherent police power so long as the exercise of that power is “reasonable”), concluded that the law was “reasonably related to the legitimate governmental purpose of reducing deaths from mass shootings.”

On June 29, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld both that decision and the magazine ban as constitutional.

Reaffirming the “reasonable exercise”test as the correct standard for reviewing challenges brought under the state constitution’s right to keep and bear arms provision, the state Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs “failed to prove that HB 1224 is an unreasonable exercise of the police power or that it has an improper purpose or effect of nullifying the right to bear arms.”The plaintiffs’“overly broad reading of the statutory definition”on prohibited magazines was “contrary to its plain language”and accordingly, the court rejected the contention that HB 1224’s definition of “large capacity magazine”could apply to all magazines with removable base pads.

Because the plaintiffs elected to challenge the law solely under the Colorado Constitution, the court discounted any arguments from U.S. Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Second Amendment, like Heller and McDonald. State law had its own precedents, and “our precedent construing [the state right to keep and bear arms] long ago charted a different course from case law interpreting the Second Amendment.”

The appropriate test, therefore, was the undemanding standard established by an earlier Colorado case –namely, whether the law constituted a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power. So long as the law could be said to have a legitimate government end within the police power, such as promoting the public health, safety, or welfare, and did “not work a nullity of the right to bear arms in defense of home, person, or property,”it would clear the bar. 

The case highlights the importance of selecting both the appropriate venue and applicable law in gun rights challenges. The court made it clear that “the Second Amendment applies with full force in Colorado and our legislature may not enact any law in contravention of it. But Plaintiffs have challenged HB 1224 only under the Colorado Constitution. Reviewing that claim, we conclude today that the legislation passes state constitutional muster. Because Plaintiffs do not challenge HB 1224 under the Second Amendment, we do not address whether the legislation runs afoul of the federal constitution.”

The decision is Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Polis, 2020 CO 66 (Colo. June 29, 2020) and is posted online at:  https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Opinions/2018/18SC817.pdf.

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Texas: Senate Passes HB 1927

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Texas: Senate Passes HB 1927

Early this evening, after more than 6 hours of debate and discussion on more than two dozen amendments, the Texas Senate passed House Bill 1927, constitutional carry legislation, on an 18-13 vote.

Louisiana: Constitutional Carry Bills Have Now Passed Both Legislative Chambers

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Louisiana: Constitutional Carry Bills Have Now Passed Both Legislative Chambers

Recently, the Louisiana House passed Constitutional Carry legislation, House Bill 596. 

Biden Goes All in On Calls for Extreme Gun Control

News  

Monday, May 3, 2021

Biden Goes All in On Calls for Extreme Gun Control

President Biden dropped any pretense at “moderation” in his first address to a joint session of Congress since assuming the presidency.

Leaked ATF Rule Would Upend Firearm Industry

News  

Monday, April 26, 2021

Leaked ATF Rule Would Upend Firearm Industry

On April 20th, The Reload, published what appears to be a leaked draft of an ATF proposed rule.

South Carolina AG Wilson Wins Against Columbia Gun Control

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

South Carolina AG Wilson Wins Against Columbia Gun Control

On May 4th, the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of Attorney General Alan Wilson, agreeing that the City of Columbia’s anti-gun ordinances violate the state’s preemption law.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

South Carolina: Constitutional Carry Amendment Fails

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

South Carolina: Constitutional Carry Amendment Fails

Today, the Senate debated adding a constitutional carry amendment to House Bill 3094, the open carry bill. Unfortunately, the amendment failed to be adopted. 

Vermont: Amendment Poses Legal Jeopardy for Citizens Engaged in Self-Defense

Friday, May 7, 2021

Vermont: Amendment Poses Legal Jeopardy for Citizens Engaged in Self-Defense

Legislation introduced this session to address policing took a turn for the worse recently.  It was amended in the Senate and now represents a striking blow to citizens’ right to self-defense. 

South Carolina: Senate Passes Open Carry With Free CWP Amendment

Friday, May 7, 2021

South Carolina: Senate Passes Open Carry With Free CWP Amendment

Yesterday, the Senate voted 28-16 to pass House Bill 3094, the open carry bill. Though the constitutional carry amendment failed, the Senate did manage to adopt an amendment to eliminate the fee for a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP). ...

North Carolina: House Passes Sheriff-Approved Repeal of Pistol Permit

Thursday, May 6, 2021

North Carolina: House Passes Sheriff-Approved Repeal of Pistol Permit

Yesterday, the House passed House Bill 398, to repeal the pistol permit in favor of the federal NICS background check. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.