Judge upholds Colorado’s gun laws, tosses lawsuit; plaintiffs will appeal

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Weld County Sheriff John Cooke (second from left) leaves the Alfred J. Arraj Federal Courthouse in Denver Monday during a break on the first day of a trial over a lawsuit from gun owners aiming to overturn the state's new gun control laws.

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke (second from left) leaves the Alfred J. Arraj Federal Courthouse in Denver Monday during a break on the first day of a trial over a lawsuit from gun owners aiming to overturn the state's new gun control laws.

DENVER — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit aimed at overturning Colorado’s new gun laws, upholding the expansion of background checks on private gun sales and transfers and the ban on magazines of more than 15 rounds, FOX31 Denver is first to report

“The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims and to close this case,” reads the final ruling from Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger.

PDF: Read the full ruling

In Krieger’s view, neither the magazine ban nor the background check expansion unreasonably burden gun owners or sellers.

The ruling comes roughly a week after Gov. Hickenlooper tried to smooth things over with a group of sheriffs, who’d originally been plaintiffs in the lawsuit (Krieger ruled they couldn’t be plaintiffs in their official capacity as sheriffs) and remain angry about the tougher gun laws.

Nearly 30 organizations and individuals, including a few Colorado sheriffs, are listed as plaintiffs in the case including Magpul, the magazine manufacturer currently relocating from Erie to Wyoming because of the magazine ban.

Late Thursday afternoon at a press conference at the Independence Institute, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and attorney Dave Kopel announced they planned to appeal the ruling up to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and even to the Supreme Court if necessary.

“We believe [Krieger] got it wrong as a matter of law,” Kopel said. “We think we have a very strong case in the court of appeals.”

Cooke, who is running for the state senate, made sure to reference Hickenlooper’s acknowledgment to a group of sheriffs 13 days earlier that the laws may be difficult to enforce and his regrets about the legislative process through which they were passed.

“John Hickenlooper knows that the Bloomberg anti-gun laws are a failure and as sheriffs everyday we fight to protect the safety and rights of law-abiding citizens of Colorado,” Cooke said. “We will continue to fight and we look forward to presenting our case to a higher court.”

The gun laws were the most controversial aspect of the last legislative session placing Democrats, who wanted new gun control laws following mass shootings, including the Arapahoe High School shooting and the Aurora theater shooting, versus Republicans who claimed the laws violated Second Amendment rights.

“The judge today offered a thorough and reasoned opinion and recognized that the state’s new gun laws do not unduly burden anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” said Hickenlooper’s spokesman Eric Brown. We appreciate the good work that the Attorney General’s team did to represent the state and defend the law.”

Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, issued a statement saying “the Colorado Attorney General’s Office has never asserted that the laws in question are good, wise or sound policy. As it does in all cases, the AG’s Office has fulfilled its responsibility to defend the constitutionality of the Colorado law in question.”

“The Attorney General’s Office fully expects the case to be appealed and looks forward to final resolution of the issues as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Former state Sen. John Morse, who was recalled last year in Colorado Springs because of his support for the gun laws  said, “We’ve know all along that these laws are constitutionally sound.”

“Maybe now that a federal judge has agreed with us, the sheriff’s will stop politicizing them,” Morse said.

Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, who carried both pieces of legislation as both the prime sponsor and the mother to a son gunned down by gang members, told FOX31 Denver Thursday that she is “thrilled” about the ruling.

“It validates the work we’ve done,” she said.

“Today is an important day in the fight to keep our communities and families safe from gun violence,” said Rita Schweitz, co-chair of the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence, in a statement. “Colorado’s universal background checks law is a common-sense solution to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and we now have the Court’s validation of what we have asserted from the outset – these laws do not violate anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights.”

Here are some key passages from the 50-page ruling released Thursday:

On the magazine ban:

“It is clear from the legislative history that the General Assembly adopted the 15-round restriction in the effort to balance the ability of individuals to lawfully use semiautomatic weapons in self-defense, while limiting the capability of unlawful shooters to fire repeatedly. It considered a more restrictive limit of 12 rounds, but rejected that at the request of citizens and law enforcement officials. Instead, it chose the 15-round limit based on evidence that officers of the numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies all successfully use magazines with 15 or fewer rounds.

“Whether adoption of a fifteen-round magazinelimit is a sound public policy or a perfect fit with the General Assembly’s objective to improve publicsafety is not the question before this Court.”

On the background check expansion:

“It does not prevent a person otherwise permitted to obtain a firearm from acquiring one, nor subject that person to any greater burdens than he or she would face if acquiring the weapon commercially. Nothing in the Second Amendment can be read to suggest that a permissible burden on commercial sales of firearms cannot similarly be extended to apply to those acquiring firearms by loan.

“The evidence shows that there are more than 600 firearms dealers in Colorado that are actively performing private checks, and that, currently, it takes an average of less than fifteen minutes for a check to be processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

On the law’s 72-hour transfer window before mandatory reporting:

“The Court perceives this argument to be one of preferred policy. The Court’s role in this case is to determine whether § 18-12-112 impermissibly burdens protected Second Amendment rights. What the legislature chooses to exempt from the statute’s requirements is a determination that is left solely to the legislature. The legislature was free to conclude, as it did, that 72 hours would be an adequate period of time to permittransfers without background checks while ensuring that sham loans would not occur beyond that timeframe. Whether or not the legislature’s policy decision was wise or warranted is not a question properly presented to this Court.”


  • Mike

    Looks like we’ll have to keep buying magazines out of Wyoming and buying our guns off the streets.

      • freedom1

        Why don’t you stay under Bloomberg’ s desk and shut the f@#$ up and move to New York or Chicago to support those pogressive trash laws

      • MoreFreedomLessFreeloaders

        Better yet, since you have a problem with Rights and Freedoms how about you move to a place more to your liking? The U.K would be perfect for you, and I’ll even help you pack. I’m tired of you Progressive parasites ruining the state I grew up in!

      • juandos

        One demturd (Krieger) supporting another demturd (Hickenlooper) by legislating from the bench and that doesn’t bother you?

    • curtain

      remember its hickenlooper that signed the bill limiting your magazines and increasing fees and background checks it wasn’t pinnocio. so when you go to vote this November pull the lever for anyone but hickendooper.

  • Kyle Walpole

    Apparently the courts are not where citizens should look to in order to preserve their Constitutional rights. I urge all to consider joining your local militia, stocking up on arms and ammunition and training in their safe use, and doing all you can to get leftist politicians out of office in November. It is clear that our local and federal government is more concerned with giving away our hard earned money to those who make poor choices, providing illegal aliens with more rights than citizens, and using their force (through the increased militarization of local and federal law enforcement) against citizens rather than criminals. We MUST keep Colorado from becoming the next California.

    • Travis havicc

       during that first gun debate, the state of New Hampshire introduced an amendment that gave the government permission to confiscate guns when citizens “are or have been in Actual Rebellion.” To those early legislators in New Hampshire, the right to bear arms stops as soon as those arms are taken up against our “we the people” government.
      Your future as a rebel?
      Whiskey Rebellion. In 1794, armed Americans took up guns against what they viewed as a tyrannical George Washington administration imposing taxes on whiskey. President Washington called up 13,000 militia men, and personally led the troops to squash the rebellion of armed citizens in Bedford, Pennsylvania. No Army. No right to have guns to overthrow the oppressive US government. 
      Those 13,000 men and women today would be called the national guard.
      Every man and woman who takes the oath swears to protect this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. When I read the non sense men like you spew there is one person Ithink of “timothy mcveigh” his writings are a mirror image of what men like you keep spewing. You claim to be a man of the people? While hinting you would be willing to point your weapon at fellow americans who actually defend this country with their lives not with pillow talk.
      You complain about police states? Guess what if you want every able body man to have weapons that includes law enforcement. You know the people who actually keep our street safe not untrained armed cowboys like yourself.

      • freedom1

        And what have you done mister keyboard hero? Anything? Many of us did serve and continue to serve. Hey I here China has great laws you should go and try them

      • Charley Vu

        The Bundy ranch is a better example of what we advocate. Those lawyers in Oklahoma City NOR the murdered Vegas cops posed any imminent illegitimate threat to anyone at any point in time.

      • Dale Gross

        Yeah, police are so well-trained that they only need to fire one shot and never kill innocent people. And then they never lie when they screw up, either. Shooting guns is rocket science. It would take very, very special police officer or military training to be able to properly use and possess a firearm.

      • Fire now

        I see Tom you deleted your other post, reality just to much for you? Why dont you get out of your moms basement and go buy some more tissues with your ebt card you fing coward. Maybe use our tax dollars to send your coward @ss to North Korea wherel they would love you

      • prog slayer

        Hey Tom is that why all of the mass shooters where conservatives? Oh that’s right they all were cowardly cr@p like you! All progressive socialist trash like you

      • mp2

        Coming from the boy whos afraid of inanimate objects and hides behind a phone when bad things happen I’d say you are pathetic little man.

  • Mel

    But…if its appealed it does look like the SCOTUS will side with them…they seem to have remembered what the Constitution is (at least this week).

  • Megan

    You all are dumb, a background checks isn’t infringing on your rights to own a gun, it’s a basic step towards making sure you aren’t a felon or crazy with a gun. Yes they can still buy them illegally but now it’s just a bit harder for them to get a gun. It’s called common sense people, common sense.

    • Anonymous

      Its called taking control of the american people telling us what we can do and do like Obama care and all the other lies that are being told bengazi we the people have a right to defend our selves against tyranny how do we do that with out firearms we don’t we become sheep

    • Anonymous

      Shut up! No really! You want to talk about dumb? Go look in the mirror. Common sense tells me that law abiding citizens FOLLOW the law. CRIMINALS do not. Thus, any criminal hell bent on acquiring a firearm, is going to do so no matter WHAT the law says. All these “common sense” laws do nothing but put law abiding citizens at a major disadvantage versus the criminal and also serve to grease the skids on the fast track to tyranny.

      • Mary

        Interestingly, an article in the Denver Post in December pointed out that
        1) more guns than ever before had been sold in Colorado and the year wasn’t over
        2) less than 2% FAILED the background check
        3) of the 72 who failed the background check on private purchases, ALL WERE CONVICTED FELONS who lost the right to own a gun due to prior “bad acts”.

        Since we are constantly being told that the problems with gun ownership are not “responsible gun owners” but criminals and the mentally ill, I do not understand the problem with doing what can be done to make it harder for those folks to get their hands on guns.

      • Anonymous

        Mary I hate to burst your bubble. But do you know how kids get cigarettes? They go to the gas station get carded at the first one then and, move on to another until someone sells them to them. Kids stand out side the gas station and ask people to buy them for them. Some kids have an awesome older brother or sister to buy them for them. Some kids steal them from people. Some kids might find tobacco seeds and grow it to make cigarettes. I’m sure the list of they get them could go on. After all we’re human we get what we want

    • Dale Gross

      Yeah, all people convicted of a felony used guns in their crimes. (All felonies are gun crimes.) Martha Stewart is champing at the bit to get a gun and go hold up a liquor store. And all these mass shooters, whose actions fueled this debate, were convicted felons when they obtained their guns. Wait, that’s not right.

  • Charley Vu

    From the decision:

    “There is a curious paradox here: the more competent the defensive firearm user, the more likely he or she is to hit her target with fewer shots, and thus, the less likely that user is to need a large-capacity magazine for defensive purposes. By contrast, the less competent or confident the user, the greater the number of rounds the user perceives he or she needs. One wonders how these perceptions are affected by exposure to military grade weaponry in news and entertainment.”

    So cops who are exempt from this law are poorly trained?

    • Charley Vu

      ““There is a curious paradox here: the more competent the defensive firearm user, the more likely he or she is to hit her target with fewer shots, and thus, the less likely that user is to need a large-capacity magazine for defensive purposes.”

      Hitting a target is one thing. Actually stopping the target is another. Not every hit is a disabling shot. It might hurt like heck to the average person, but to a hardened criminal that may not always be the case. Check hospital ER records and trauma surgery records of individuals who were able to ambulate under their own power to receive medical attention and were hit in what were thought to be vital areas. The only surefire way to actually put down someone is a hit to the spinal cord (the size of a pencil) or the brain. Headshots are already hard enough to pull off in a defensive situation, and aiming directly for the spinal cord is hard as well (hence why you are taught to aim at center mass). Having more rounds gives you more chances to hit those areas. Collapsing from low blood perfusion takes way too long, and since most defensive encounters happen within 0-5 feet, if you wanted your assailant to stop fighting due to blood loss you’d be better off if he was farther away from you (which is not even the case here), or if you hit his CNS during the fight.

      I also doubt that Massad Ayoob stated that he saw students “spraying and praying” – I would actually like to hear the oral arguments for myself on that matter if they were available.

      You’re taught to fire as many rounds as needed to stop a threat, but that doesn’t mean you should be limiting yourself.

  • John Punessen

    Your “lawful shooters” are usually “lawful” right up until they start shooting children. We have more gun deaths every day before lunch than Japan has all year. Get a clue.

    • freedom1

      Whats your solution for that any? Yeah laws are working so well in Chicago. Mags are still way easy to get and if you have guns bought before July 1st last year you can sell them all day long and they can’t prove when it was sold.

    • Anonymous

      So you like comunisum you like being told how to live we have a right to bear arms for a tyranicical which we have right I would defend the people with my fire arms whether it be a bolt action or a weapon with 30 round clip I sure wouldn’t be safe throwing rocks at them

    • Charley Vu

      Most of your gun deaths are due to suicides (easily accomplished by other methods – Japan, China, South Korea, Finland, France – all of these countries have a similar or higher suicide rate than the US), or criminal on criminal violence, justified homicides, rather than all of them being murders, if that’s what you were trying to get at.

      • Anonymous

        The same amount of shootings we have before lunch are equal to the stabbing before lunch in the uk. You’re also referring to the circle of life. People are going to kill people with whatever they can get their hands on. We will never stop killings not reduce them. So start packing and shooting back.

  • Charley Vu

    If large capacity magazines are so dangerous in anyone’s hands, why even allow the police, who are just as human as you and I, to have them?


    “it chose the 15-round limit based on evidence that officers of the numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies all successfully use magazines with 15 or fewer rounds.”

    LEOs have access to magazines that have more than 15 rounds in them, though. Many police agencies carry the Glock 17 which has 17 rounds in it. The NYPD has the option of carrying the SIG P226 which can have magazines up to 20 rounds in it. Same thing with the Secret Service (FN 5-7)

  • Karen

    Colorado Ammosexuals are stunned by this ruling. Someone buy Skeeter a beer… he has to reload more often and that can get complicated.

  • unimpressed

    Thank you Judge Krieger. The laws that were voted on, passed by the legislature and supported by the majority of CO.’s citizens stand, despite the travesty of the recalls and this ridiculous lawsuit. Commonsense prevails and love wins.

  • sheep

    All true Coloradans we can still sign the ballot initiative to get this over turned. Get out and sign it and shut the socialist piles of excrement up

  • Dale Gross

    To compare cops to citizens in regard to the need for more larger magazines is retarded. If a cop could only have one round per gun, they would have 100 cops standing around with 100 rounds between them. But individuals are not police forces, so they need more bullets, because they are a one man army, who might have to keep defending for 15 minutes until the inept police arrive.

  • red zone

    The new laws are just a incovinenc is all. 5 of us just bought 100 pmags last week for $900 and sold them here for $1300.If you have guns now that you purpurchased before the law was signed you can sell them and no one can prove when you did. 80% ar-15 lower dont need a background check and can be sent to your house.Takes an hour to run and you have a brand new rifle with no paper work

  • Chris

    Why don’t you liberal bed wetters start trying to get a law to make murder illegal too? Criminals don’t follow laws and if they don’t care that murder is illegal… they don’t care about magazine capacity, or bombs, or your stupid background checks. These idiots don’t value human life and have no morals. It’s not conservative people pulling these mass murders either. Most of you liberals don’t instill morals, religion, or even common sense for that matter in the baby bed wetters you bring into the world. They aren’t taught to deal with society or the real world. They are taught that everything needs to be equal and fair. They are taught that there is never a loser. They are taught that they are free to express themselves in any way they need to so they can get attention. They also have a horrible sense of entitlement. What i’ve described is a recipe for these mass shooters. When is the last time a gun show got shot up? When is the last time someone went to where people were allowed to be armed and shot the place up? These are liberal problems and it’s sad you whiny little bed wetters can’t see that. What I find funny is us “conservatives” don’t try to push anything or force anything on anyone. It’s you liberal crybabies that try to force your low life, socialist, and stupid beliefs, laws, and policies on everyone with excuses. You idiots should be happy there are people like us that believe in what this country was founded on. If you don’t like the instilled morals or constitution, maybe you should go south of the border or take the trip to the UK. They love sheep like you in both places. Criminals love you too because they know you can’t defend yourself if you need to. Go be a victim crybabies.

  • SJ Lane

    They made the wrong legal argument. Only the Federal Government can regulate interstate commerce. The ban on sales within a state falls under interstate commerce and will be found unconstitutional on those grounds. The state has the authority to regulate intrastate commerce, but these products are made outside the state and are being banned from crossing state lines for sale, not something the State of Colorado has the authority to regulate. Making the claim that it infringes on the 2nd Amendment was a wasted argument because it does not prevent someone from owning or carrying a firearm.

  • Duke Paulsen

    When you consider for the moment, it’s the Sheriffs themselves (for the most part) pursuing this case on behalf of the People, working through the Appeals Process & fighting for US (WOW! a totally NEW concept!), it would seem that Law Enforcement (I speak with a “Broad Brush”) may not be the “jerks” or “alpha-henries” we’d typically think of.

  • Owen Borseth

    Everyone on here, no matter your political leanings, who are threatening and name calling like children should be pretty ashamed of yourselves. You are all part of the problem. It’s pretty sad to see the commentary on this article from both sides. Level headed arguments are actually not all that hard to make, ya’ll should give it a whirl.

  • Robert

    The Judges are nothing more than flunkies of the federal dictatorship….. Americans only have “rights “.if not in conflict with government expedients … The notorious and so- called “Patriot Act ” already made that reality clear years ago …Police state control of the population will continue to tighten… It is time stop dreaming and pontificating over the erstwhile “land of the free” . Don’t bother protesting …The American government is protected from the people by the most powerful network of police and surveillance systems on Earth ..Have a nice day …enjoy the security .and please …don’t complain ,,,,This is what the majority of the public have voted to support …..
    .It is ….democracy ….

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