A Boulder Judge Recently Blocked A Ban On Assault Weapons

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
Matthew Jonas/MediaNews Group/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images)

The assault-weapons ban was enacted in Boulder in 2018 following the Parkland shooting in Florida

Earlier this month, a state district court judge ruled that the city of Boulder could not enforce a ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines. The ban was initially enacted after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Last night, a gunman opened fire in a Boulder grocery store, killing 10 people with a rifle, according to police. This is the second mass shooting to happen in less than a week.

On March 12, Boulder County District Judge Andrew Hartman ruled that, according to a 2003 Colorado state law, cities and counties cannot restrict guns that are otherwise legal under federal and state law. In his ruling, Hartman wrote that the “need for statewide uniformity favors the state’s interest in regulating assault weapons.” He warned that Boulder’s ordinance could influence other cities in Colorado to pass their own bans.

The city of Boulder argued that the state constitution gave it the power to adopt the bans as a matter of local concern, stating that a ban on assault-style weapons was necessary because Colorado doesn’t regulate such weapons.

Dawn Reinfeld, the co-founder of Colorado gun violence prevention group Blue Rising, tells the Washington Post that the timing of the court decision was “appalling” and hard to ignore.

“We tried to protect our city,” she said. “It’s so tragic to see the legislation struck down, and days later, to have our city experience exactly what we were trying to prevent.”

North Central Colorado, which counts Boulder as part of its region, has seen nine school shootings since the Columbine shooting in 1999, which left 12 students and one teacher dead. A 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora also left 12 people dead.

Those massacres, as well as the school shooting in Parkland, influenced Boulder officials to take action to prevent further mass shootings.

The 2018 ruling banned the possession, transfer, and sale of most shotguns and certain pistols and semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips, a thumbhole stock, or any protruding grip that allows a weapon to be stabilized with the non-trigger hand. It also banned large-capacity magazines, which defined as “any ammunition-feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.” A permit system was established for people who had previously owned any of those guns.

Following Hartman’s ruling in eliminating the ban, the NRA, predictably, supported his decision.

Just one day after Hartman’s ruling, on March 13, city officials instructed Boulder police to stop enforcing the ban. The mass shooting in Boulder occurred on the afternoon of March 22.

Colorado State Rep. Tom Sullivan ran for office after his son Alex was killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting, and helped lobby the statehouse in Denver for background checks and magazine limits, according to the Washington Post.

“The assault weapons put the ‘mass’ in the ‘shootings,’ ” he said. “That’s what gets the numbers up. That’s what gets the assault weapons that were able to fire as many rounds as were fired … in the theater, in the schools, in Parkland.”

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