Gun owners file lawsuit against Boulder’s ban
City Council voted to prohibit some weapons
DENVER | Firearms owners wasted no time challenging the gun ban in Boulder, Colorado, filing a lawsuit one day after the city council’s Tuesday vote to expel “assault weapons” and certain accessories from the city limits.
The motion filed by the Mountain States Legal Foundation seeks a preliminary injunction to stop the famously liberal city from enforcing the ban, which would subject violators to fines of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail per offense.
The unanimous vote at Tuesday night’s council meeting came amid a national push for tougher guncontrol laws in response the deadly Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but foes blasted the measure as unconstitutional and pointless.
“This ban is tantamount to Boulder attempting to stop drunk driving by banning Subarus,” said foundation attorney Cody J. Wisniewski. “It accomplishes nothing other than making criminals of law-abiding citizens.”
The ordinance forbids the sale or possession of certain semiautomatic rifles as well as bump stocks and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and raises the legal gun-possession age from 18 to 21.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Denver names as defendants Boulder residents and gun owners Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, and Tyler Faye, a member of the University of Colorado shooting team, as well as the Boulder Rifle Club and Bison Tactical.
In addition to a flurry of state and federal legislation, the Parkland shooting has also prompted at least two localities — Boulder and Deerfield, Illinois, — to pass ordinances banning “assault weapons,” raising questions over whether such actions are enforceable.
The lawsuit noted that Colorado state law forbids local governments from prohibiting “the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm that a persona may lawfully sell, purchase, or possess under state or federal law.”
Council members have claimed a home-rule exception in defending the ordinance, which includes exemptions for military, law enforcement and competitive shooters.
The measure also allows for the grandfathering of semi-automatic rifles whose owners can prove that they bought the firearms before the ban was enacted.
Council members Sam Weaver and Bob Yates said in a May 5 article that they both own guns, but that the “sensible gun regulation” was the “right thing to do” for several reasons.
“Because it reflects the values of a majority of our community,” they wrote in the Daily Camera op-ed. “Because it will make us incrementally safer. Because it will tell our ineffective state and federal legislators that cities will act when they fail to. And because it’s the right thing to do.”
The liberal Daily Camera disagreed in an April editorial, dismissing the measure as a “symbolic gesture.”
“It relates to an issue over which municipalities have virtually no control,” said the April 4 editorial. “And yet it will almost certainly provoke both sides of a highly-charged, emotional issue to stand up on their hind legs in righteous indignation.”
While Colorado has trended blue in the last couple of decades, the state also hosts a booming hunting industry and widespread gun ownership.
“Colorado is not California; these laws have no place here,” said foundation President William Perry Pendley.