Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Hickenlooper — Brief filed

Michael Harless Colorado Court of Appeals, Firearms Law, Litigation

On March12, 2015, our firm joined with co-counsel with Barry K. Arrington, Esquire of Centennial, Colorado, and filed in the Colorado Court of Appeals a brief challenging the constitutionality of the recent 2013 Colorado laws banning so-called “large capacity” magazines and requiring criminal background checks for all private transfers of firearms.

In 2013, representing the National Association for Gun Rights and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, our firm challenged Colorado’s recent gun control laws in a Denver court. This suit was based exclusively on violations of the Colorado State Constitution. Interestingly, the Colorado Constitution is stronger even than the U.S. Constitution in defending gun rights. In two recent cases, Colorado courts had upheld gun rights that have been denied in the federal courts. Nevertheless, the district court dismissed the case without a hearing, not allowing us to present evidence of the flaws in the statue, nor the state’s rich history of promoting and protecting gun rights. We took an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Among other arguments, we attacked the Colorado ban on magazines “designed to be readily converted” to hold over 15 rounds arguing that it applies to almost all magazines. The district court interpreted the statute according to an opinion issued by the Colorado Attorney General, whose office also was defending the Governor in the litigation, claiming the law applies only to magazines intentionally designed to be converted – an interpretation which applies to no known magazines.

We also argued that the background check requirement unconstitutionally delegates both executive and legislative powers to Federal Firearms Licensees, who must perform a background check before a firearm can be transferred between private parties. In order to sell a firearm to your next door neighbor, you must convince a firearms dealer to do a background check, which exposes the FFL to potential federal criminal liability — in exchange for a maximum fee of $10 — far less than FFLs actually charge to perform that service.

Link to brief