May 20, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Statutes Limiting Sale, Transfer, and Possession of Large-Capacity Magazines Facially Constitutional

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Hickenlooper on Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Constitutional Law—Large-Capacity Magazines—Colorado Constitution—Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

In the wake of the mass shootings at Columbine High School and the Aurora movie theatre, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bills 13-1224 (HB 1224), limiting large-capacity magazines (LCMs) for firearms, and 13-1229 (HB 1229), expanding mandatory background checks for firearm sales and transfers. HB 1224 added C.R.S.§§ 18-12-301, -302, and -303 (collectively, the statutes), which generally define an LCM as a magazine able to hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition and provide (with exceptions) criminal penalties for their sale, possession, and transfer after July 1, 2013.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the National Association for Gun Rights, Inc., and Sternberg (collectively, plaintiffs) challenged the facial constitutionality of both bills under Colo. Const. art. II, § 13, which affords individuals the right to keep and bear arms. The district court granted the Governor’s C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5) motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On the first appeal, a court of appeals division affirmed with respect to HB 1229, but remanded the case because the district court had erred in dismissing the HB 1224 claim. After a bench trial, the district court found that the statutes were constitutional.

On appeal, plaintiffs contended that the district court erred in finding the statutes constitutional. They argued that the prospective LCM ban should be subject to a heightened standard of review. The Colorado Supreme Court established the “reasonable exercise test” as the standard governing review of a claimed violation of the Colorado right to bear arms.

Plaintiffs also contended that the statutes should be interpreted as unconstitutionally broad because they ban “an overwhelming majority of magazines.” The court applied the reasonable exercise test and determined that the statutes are constitutional as a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power to protect the public’s health and safety because they (1) reasonably further a legitimate governmental interest in reducing mass shooting deaths; (2) are reasonably related to the legislative purpose of reducing mass shooting deaths; and (3) do not sweep constitutionally protected activities within their reach.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

HB 17-1037: Allowing the Use of Deadly Force Against an Intruder to a Business

On January 11, 2017, Rep. Justin Everett and Sen. Vicki Marble introduced HB 17-1037, “Concerning the Use of Deadly Physical Force Against a Person who has Made an Illegal Entry Into a Place of Business.”

The bill extends the right to use deadly force against an intruder under certain conditions to include owners, managers, and employees of businesses.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee.

SB 17-005: Allowing School Employees to Carry Concealed Weapons

On January 11, 2017, Sen. Chris Holbert and Rep. Patrick Neville introduced SB 17-005, “Concerning Handgun Safety Training Courses for School Employees, and, in Connection Therewith, Permitting Certain School Employees to Carry Concealed Handguns in Public Schools.”

The bill allows a county sheriff to provide a handgun safety training course to any employee of any public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school who also possesses a permit to carry a concealed handgun. A sheriff who provides a handgun safety training course shall consult with the board of education of each school district in the sheriff’s county, and, as may be appropriate, with the state charter school institute, to establish the curriculum for the course. The sheriff and each school district board, and, as may be appropriate, the state charter school institute, shall ensure that the curriculum includes consideration of any existing emergency response framework.

A person who possesses a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun (permittee) who is employed by a school district, charter school, or institute charter school may carry a concealed handgun onto the grounds of any school or charter school of the district or of the institute charter school if:

  • The permittee has successfully completed a school employee handgun safety course provided by a county sheriff;
  • The local board of education of the school district (local board) or, in the case of an institute charter school, the state charter school institute, has approved the curriculum of the sheriff’s department that provided the handgun safety course;
  • The permittee has received permission from the local board or, in the case of an institute charter school, from the state charter school institute, to carry a concealed handgun onto school grounds; and
  • The permittee has notified the administration of the school, charter school, or institute charter school that he or she may be carrying a concealed handgun on school grounds.

Each local board and the state charter school institute may:

  • Establish a maximum number of employees who may carry a concealed handgun in each school, charter school, and institute charter school; and
  • Deny permission to carry a concealed handgun to any employee if granting permission to the employee would result in such a limit being exceeded.

The bill was introduced in the Senate and assigned to the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee.

HB 17-1036: Permitting the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on Public School Grounds

On January 11, 2017, Reps. Patrick Neville & Kim Ransom and Sen. Tim Neville introduced HB 17-1036, “Concerning Permitting the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on Public School Grounds.”

With certain exceptions, current law limits the authority of a person who holds a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun by prohibiting permit holders from carrying a concealed handgun on public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school grounds. The bill removes this limitation.

The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.