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Colorado laws aimed at stricter gun control bring debate

In 2013 Colorado passed controversial legislation increasing the use of background checks for people in the state who intend to purchase a firearm, along with a new ban of large-capacity magazines.
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    January 22, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In 2013 Colorado passed controversial legislation increasing the use of background checks for people in the state who intend to purchase a firearm, along with a new ban of large-capacity magazines.

Thousands of background checks have been performed since the law became effective. From July until November, the Colorado Department of Public Safety reported that 72 people were refused gun permits due to a criminal history involving a violent crime or domestic violence, out of the 4,792 checks conducted during that time.

Backlash on new law

Not all Colorado residents -- or law enforcement officers -- are on board with the stricter gun law measures, however. Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County, for example, has given public speeches criticizing the new restriction on large capacity magazines. According to The New York Times, Sheriff Cooke gave on speech in which he held up two magazines for inspection. One he purchased before the new restriction. The other he "maybe" obtained after the ban went into effect. He then asked the audience to tell the difference. Similarly, he argued, it is impossible for officers to tell the difference and enforce the new law. Concerns about enforceability are among the reasons why he and several other sheriffs have refused to aggressively pursue the ban on magazines that contain more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

The state's courts have also been asked to weigh in on the issue. In fact, 55 of the state's 62 sheriffs have signed onto a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new law. They cannot challenge the law based on their roles as sheriffs, but have done so as residents of the state. Political backlash has also occurred. Three members of Colorado's legislative body who voted for the law have since been recalled or resigned amid the controversy. Several congressional members are now seeking to repeal the statute in 2014.

Sheriffs have broad powers

Many of the sheriffs have cited constitutional grounds for their unwillingness to enforce Colorado's new law. Whether sheriffs have a constitutional right to refuse to enforce gun laws is debatable, but practically speaking sheriffs have quite a bit of leeway in what laws they choose to enforce. A sheriff is more likely to suffer consequences for using discretion from voters than from state legislators or the governor.

Gun laws changing but controversial

Despite its passage after the Newtown and Aurora massacres, the new gun laws are by no means set in stone. Whatever the future holds for gun control in the state, many Colorado residents are vocal about their Second Amendment rights and have the support of legislators and law enforcement officers across the state.

Colorado residents with questions about their right to bear arms or who have been charged with illegal firearms possession should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss their options and protect their rights in court.

Article provided by Gerash Steiner, P.C.
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