judge upholds Colorado gun laws, dismisses lawsuit
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[June 27, 2014]
DENVER (Reuters) - A federal judge
upheld gun laws on Thursday introduced by Colorado in the wake of deadly
shooting rampages there and in Connecticut, dismissing a lawsuit brought
by sheriffs, gun shops, outfitters and shooting ranges.
The two laws, passed in 2013 by Colorado's Democratic-controlled
legislature with scant Republican support, banned ammunition
magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and required background
checks for all private gun sales and transfers.
The bills were introduced in response to a shooting spree in 2012
that killed 12 people at a suburban Denver movie theater, and the
slaying later that same year of 20 children and six adults at an
elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
But they immediately met resistance from critics, including most of
Colorado's elected sheriffs, who said they severely restricted
citizens' constitutional right to own and bear arms.
Last year, voters recalled two key Democratic members of the
legislature that approved the controversial measures.
After a two-week civil trial, U.S. District Chief Judge Marcia
Krieger ruled the lawsuit lacked standing and said no evidence had
been produced which showed limiting magazines to 15 rounds seriously
diminished the ability to defend oneself.
"Of the many law enforcement officials called to testify, none were
able to identify a single instance in which they were involved where
a single civilian fired more than 15 shots in self defense," she
said in her ruling.
Responding to complaints about expanded background checks, she said
there were more than 600 firearms dealers in the state which
actively perform private checks, and that it takes an average of
less than 15 minutes for a check to be run by the Colorado Bureau of
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Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who signed the bills into
law, was named as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Colorado has seen two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S.
history. In addition to the 2012 theater shooting, it was the site
of a 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, where two teenagers
shot dead a teacher and 12 other students before committing suicide.
But it is also a state where gun ownership is treasured.
Colorado's Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, said his
office never claimed the laws were "good, wise, or sound policy,"
but that it had fulfilled its responsibility to defend the
constitutionality of the state law in question.
(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Sandra Maler)
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