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Judge denies effort to block enforcement of Colorado’s 3-day wait on gun purchases

The law was challenged by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line gun rights group in the state
An AR-15 style rifle is displayed at the Firing-Line indoor range and gun shop, Thursday, July 26, 2012 in Aurora. (Alex Brandon/AP file photo)

A federal judge on Monday declined to block enforcement of Colorado’s new law imposing a three-day waiting period on firearm purchases, a major win for Democrats and gun control groups.

The law, passed by the Democratic majority in the Colorado legislature this year, was challenged by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line gun rights group in the state. RMGO successfully blocked enforcement of another gun control measure passed by the legislature this year that raised the age to purchase all firearms in the state to 21.

“Saving approximately 100 people in Colorado this year outweighs the aggregate harm of minimal expenditures of time and sacrificed business opportunities,” Senior U.S. District Court Judge John Kane wrote in a 42-page ruling on the waiting-period law, citing statistics from proponents of the bill on how it would prevent suicides and homicides.

Taylor Rhodes, who leads RMGO, called the ruling against the group’s request for a preliminary injunction “a bump in the road” and vowed to appeal Kane’s ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to unwind a New York law requiring a license to carry concealed weapons in public places made it more difficult for states to pass gun control measures.

In that case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the court set a precedent that if a gun statute regulates something that is protected under the plain text of the Second Amendment, then “the government must affirmatively prove that its firearms regulation is part of the historical tradition” for it to be constitutional. It was under that standard that Colorado’s new law raising the age to purchase guns was indefinitely blocked.

The state has appealed the ruling blocking the age-limit law to the 10th Circuit.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which represents Gov. Jared Polis in the waiting-period case, argued that “the plain text of the Second Amendment covers the possession (‘keep’) and carrying (‘bear’) of arms. A waiting period affects neither right.”

“Plaintiffs have presented no historical analysis or evidence demonstrating that the words ‘to keep and bear arms’ were publicly understood to guarantee a right to on-demand gun purchases,” the motion said.

While Kane found that the waiting-period law is not covered by the plain text of the Second Amendment, but that even if it was, “the evidence before me establishes that the act is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

The waiting-period law, which went into effect in October, could still be struck down as the broader lawsuit from RMGO moves forward. However, the case may take years to resolve.

Kane was nominated to the federal bench in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.

The age-limit and waiting-period laws were among four gun control measures passed by the Colorado legislature this year and signed into law by Polis.

The other two pieces of legislation were Senate Bill 168, which rolled back the state’s extra protections for gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers against lawsuits, and Senate Bill 170, which expanded Colorado’s red flag law and allows judges to order the temporary seizure of guns from people deemed a significant risk to themselves or others. Those laws haven’t been challenged – yet.

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