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A federal judge halted a Colorado gun law that would raise the age of purchasing a firearm to 21 years old on Monday — just as the sweeping gun reform measure was set to go into effect.
U.S. District of Colorado Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer issued a temporary restraining order against SB23-169, otherwise known as “the 18 to 20-year-old gun ban” law coined by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) non-profit organization, which filed a lawsuit against the state on grounds the legislation infringes on the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms.
Brimmer, appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote in a 44-page opinion that the gun owners’ organization “made a sufficient showing that the balance of equities tips in their favor and that the Individual Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction is in the public interest because the Individual Plaintiffs have made a sufficient showing that SB23-169 infringes the Individual Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights.”
RMGO cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen case that removed longtime restrictions New York has placed on carrying concealed firearms violates Americans’ Second and 14th Amendment rights.
“Thus, the court finds that the individual plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits on the question of whether the Second Amendment applies to 18- to 20-year-olds,” Brimmer wrote.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the state legislature signed several measures last Spring to reform gun laws after a 22-year-old man fatally shot five people and wounded more than a dozen others at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
SB23-169 would ban people under 18 to 20-year-olds from purchasing firearms, excluding active members of the U.S. armed forces, peace officers, and Peace Officer Standards and Training board-certified members.
But before the ink could dry on the gun restriction law, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the Colorado affiliate of the National Association for Gun Rights, filed a lawsuit challenging the measure’s constitutionality.
“Since the day this legislation was introduced, we knew it was unconstitutional,” Taylor Rhodes, executive director of the organization, said in a news release. “Under the Golden Dome, at the unveiling of this proposal, RMGO warned the bill sponsors this would quickly be struck down by a federal judge.”
Rhodes added after Judge Brimmer ruled in favor of the group, their “crystal ball became a reality.”
“But it doesn’t stop here,” he continued. “We won’t stop fighting until every single unconstitutional anti-gun law is struck down.”
Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Polis, told local media the governor “hopes that the courts agree with him that the law is fully consistent with our Second Amendment rights.”
“Since 1968, federal law has required Coloradans to be 21 years old to purchase a pistol, but a loophole allowed kids under age 21 to legally buy a rifle instead,” a spokesperson for Polis’ office said in a statement. “This law closes that loophole and the governor hopes that the courts agree with him that the law is fully consistent with our Second Amendment rights. The governor is working towards his goal of making Colorado one of the 10 safest states in the country — and the same age requirements for pistols and rifles would help support responsible gun ownership.”
Sponsors of the legislation argue the law would protect young people rather than criminalize responsible gun owners.
Majority House Leader Democrat Monica Duran told Fox 21 the law “isn’t trying to infringe on anybody’s rights.”
“What it comes down to is saving lives,” Duran told the outlet. “We know that youth suicide has increased. We know domestic violence has increased. The easier it is to access something, the more likelihood that it can be used in a way that could be detrimental to not just our youth but our community.”
But gun shops and shooting ranges in the Centennial State noted the law would lower profits and strip away citizens’ right to defend themselves.
“People under the age of 21 are no longer going to have the right to defend themselves with firearms,” DCF Guns store manager Kevin Day told the outlet. “The best thing we can do is continue to educate the public.”