A consortium of plaintiffs led by 54 of Colorado’s 62 elected county sheriffs filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state Friday in an effort to overturn two new gun control bills that are set to go into effect on July 1.
The plaintiffs have in their sights one law that effectively bans all firearm magazines, and one that requires a background check for every gun transfer when the gun will be in the possession of someone other than the owner for more than 72 hours.
“On one hand, I’m proud to be part of this historic case,” said Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, who spoke on behalf of 18 sheriffs who attended a press conference announcing the suit.
“But on the other hand, it saddens me that we have to be here at all,” he added. “It should never have gotten to this point in the first place.”
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the laws are not only unconstitutional, but also confusing and unenforceable.
For example, the ban on magazines was discussed by its Democratic sponsors as applying only to those that hold more than 15 rounds, in response to mass-shooting incidents in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.
But the law also outlaws any magazine that can be easily converted to hold more than 15 rounds, which applies to practically all magazines with a removable base plate that can be replaced with an after-market extender.
After July 1, the owners of such magazines cannot sell them, loan them or give them away. In effect, it means that even if they give their weapon to someone else for safekeeping — or, in the case of one wheelchair-bound plaintiff who spoke Friday, to hold momentarily as he gets in and out of his chair — they will be breaking the law.
The background-check requirement is also unduly burdensome, the sheriffs say. Maketa gave as an example a neighbor of his who, under the new law, would have to perform a background check on his fiancé if he left his firearm with her when he deploys with the military.