Federal Court Enjoins “Assault Gun” Ban in Boulder County, Colorado

As various states move to pass controversial new gun control laws after the decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, one such law was just enjoined by a federal court in Colorado. In Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. SuperiorDistrict Judge Raymond P. Moore granted a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the law enacted by the town of Superior, Colorado to ban on the sale or possession of a wide array of guns.

Under Section 10-9-40, “Possession and sale of illegal weapons,” an “illegal weapon” is defined as “an assault weapon, large-capacity magazine, rapid- fire trigger activator, blackjack, gas gun, metallic knuckles, gravity knife or switchblade knife.” § 10-9-20. An “assault weapon” is then defined as including a semi-automatic center-fire rifle which has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and also has one of a list of enumerated characteristics, a semi-automatic center-fire pistol with any one of certain listed characteristics, a semi-automatic center-fire pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than ten (10) rounds, all semi-automatic shotguns with any one of a list of characteristics, any firearm that has been modified to be operable as an assault weapon, and any part designed to convert a firearm into an assault weapon.

Under the standard for a TRO, the burden is quite high. The challengers must establish

“(1) a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits; (2) irreparable harm unless the injunction is issued; (3) that the threatened injury outweighs the harm that the preliminary injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) that the injunction, if issued, will not adversely affect the public interest.”

Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment v. Jewell, 839 F.3d 1276, 1281 (10th Cir. 2016) (quotation omitted). Even under the standard, Judge Moore found that an injunction is warranted.

Moore, an Obama appointee and the former head Federal Public Defender for Colo. and Wyoming, correctly found that the law clearly ran afoul of the controlling precedent. The Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are “commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

Judge Moore held that “the Court is sympathetic to the Town’s stated reasoning. However, the Court is unaware of historical precedent that would permit a governmental entity to entirely ban a type of weapon that is commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, whether in an individual’s home or in public.”

The Court also notes that the law has bizarre contradictions and a failure to protect citizens who owned such weapons before the critical date or move to the area after the deadline. Accordingly, Judge Moore holds:

“As previously discussed, the Court concludes that the Second Amendment encompasses the conduct addressed by this provision. And, also as previously discussed, the Court is unaware of a historical precedent that would permit the Town of Superior to impose such a regulation that would, in reality, eventually ban all assault weapons. Therefore, despite the Town of Superior’s substantial and legitimate concerns, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their claim as to this provision.”

As I have previously written, the rush to pass such laws are likely to magnify court losses and expand precedent in favor of gun ownership. States like New York have been bottomless sources of such laws that ultimately curtailed gun control options. This is another example of such impulse-buy legislation that should be welcomed by gun rights groups as easy targets for challenges.

47 thoughts on “Federal Court Enjoins “Assault Gun” Ban in Boulder County, Colorado”

  1. Generally, the last thousand or so years of western jurisprudence involved trying an individual for that individual’s actions that caused harm to a victim — who would be produced in court. Or a coroner’s report produced in the case of murder.

    Defendant harmed victim.

    It’s only been over the past century where the two subjects on each side of the word harm have become more than a bit convoluted.

    Now you have the government claiming the defendant engages in a certain behavior. The legislature has deemed (due to their vigorous batch of hearings) that the overall group of people who engage in this behavior harms society.

    Let’s state the two in order.

    Defendant harmed victim.

    Overall group behavior (to which the defendant belongs) harms society.

    The former is a proper use of the criminal justice system.

    The latter uses it for social engineering experiments — for which it was never designed.

  2. Assault weapons is a term coined by politicians and activists who are unfamiliar with firearms. AR-15 stands for Arma Lite. It has never been a military weapon. It is just a semi-automatic rifle with a pistol grip. The design of the muzzle lessens recoil, making it more comfortable to shoot. The components are lighter than some other models.

    You can “assault” people with a handgun just fine, as gangs prove weekly in Chicago.

    Firearms are designed to kill people or game. Painting it pink doesn’t make it less dangerous, and making it look militaryish doesn’t make it more dangerous. All weapons should be treated with respect and care.

    The phrase assault weapon is used for political purposes, to provoke an emotional rather than rational response. It’s highly manipulative and inherently disrespectful of voters. It’s purpose is to misinform.

    1. But, but, but, it’s black, scary looking and “fully semi-automatic” just like an M-16. It comes with 100 round magazines too. Gotta ban assault weapons.

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