Colorado Supreme Court affirms ban on large-capacity gun magazines

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the state’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines, finding the law does not violate the state constitution.

The court unanimously upheld the ban on magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, saying it is a “reasonable exercise of the police power that has neither the purpose nor effect of nullifying the right to bear arms in self-defense.”

The court ruled that the ban does not violate residents’ rights to self-defense because large-capacity gun magazines are not needed for self-defense.

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The justices did not look into whether the ban violated the U.S. Constitution but instead investigated the argument that the law was worded to ban “practically all detachable magazines” and therefore violated the right to bear arms.

The court denied that argument, which was presented by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the National Association for Gun Rights and plaintiff John Sternberg. The justices said the argument was an “overly broad” interpretation of the law based on a “misreading” of its language, which aimed to reduce deaths in mass shootings.

“Evidence at trial established that the use of (large-capacity magazines) in mass shootings increases the number of victims shot and the fatality rate of struck victims,” Justice Monica Márquez wrote. 

“These statistics have been deeply felt in Colorado,” she added. 

The law was passed in 2013, a year after the shooting at an Aurora movie theater in which a gunman fired more than 60 rounds in less than a minute, killing 12 and injuring dozens more. 

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (D) praised the ruling in a statement, calling it a “win for public safety and the rule of law."

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Dudley Brown, who leads both Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the National Association for Gun Rights, labeled the decision a “mixed bag,” The Denver Post reported

“Though we didn’t succeed in striking down the magazine ban, which was our primary goal, we did succeed on two very important points,” he said, noting that the results affirmed the state’s constitutional protections for bearing arms and that all magazines with removable base pads weren’t completely banned.

Hannah Shearer, the litigation director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the decision “adds to the growing list of state and federal courts that find restricting these devices saves lives without compromising self-defense.”

“As the Court recognized, ‘the right to bear arms is not an unlimited right,’” she said in a statement. “This stands in direct contrast to the extreme positions adopted by gun-lobby challengers, under which any regulation of firearms poses a constitutional problem. The Court rejected extremism in favor of the gun safety laws a majority of Americans and Coloradans overwhelmingly support.”