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New Boulder gun laws tied up in court two years after King Soopers shooting

Boulder leaders passed a series of laws restricting access to guns following the shooting, though some now face legal challenges.

BOULDER, Colo. — It didn’t take long after the King Soopers shooting in Boulder for city leaders to start talking about guns. They promised to pass laws limiting access to the weapons used to kill 10 people inside the grocery store. Two years later, their fight continues in court.

"I’m proud that we followed up that terrible tragedy not just with thoughts and prayers that you hear so often from politicians, but with actual actions that we’ve taken to keep our communities safer," said Aaron Brockett, the mayor of Boulder.

In the two years since the shooting, the city of Boulder has passed some of the strictest gun laws in Colorado. It started by lobbying the state to allow cities to enact stronger rules themselves.

"We were preempted by the state from passing our own legislation. And so we went to our state legislators and to the governor and said, please, either pass these measures on the state level or give us the opportunity to control our own destiny here and pass gun violence prevention measures locally," said Brockett. "That newfound, very clear ability that the state gave us stemmed directly from the shooting and then led to us passing those measures."


Boulder, along with other cities in the county like Superior and Louisville, passed a suite of new laws last summer limiting access to guns. The age to buy a gun in Boulder was raised from 18 to 21. People must wait 10 days to purchase a firearm. Boulder passed a measure banning so-called assault weapons, but it’s currently on hold as a lawsuit continues.

"I think we’ve passed essentially all of the policies that need to be passed here locally," said Brockett. "I think the work that’s left to be done is hopefully enact more of these on the state and federal level."

There are considerable limitations to how much power the laws individual cities pass can have when it comes to guns. For example, the gunman in the King Soopers shooting bought his gun in Arvada before coming to Boulder. Boulder’s new laws, even if fully enacted and enforced, would not have stopped that from happening.

"The lawmakers who are passing these bills are insane," said Taylor Rhodes, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. "When you look at it, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has been granted a temporary restraining order in their lawsuit to stop the enforcement of the so-called assault weapon ban in Boulder.

"Temporary restraining orders are something that are typically used against rapists," said Rhodes. "We felt that was necessary in the position that Boulder County put gun owners in that area."

He’s confident he’ll win the lawsuit, but knows he likely can’t stop statewide gun legislation from passing in the Democrat controlled state legislature. We reached him by phone today as he drove through the western slope to fundraise to file more lawsuits.

"The legislation that we sued over was their increased magazine prohibition which took the statewide magazine ban from 15 all the way down to 10. And it restricted so-called assault weapons," said Rhodes. "The path that we’re going with passing anti-gun legislation is clearly not making our community safer."

Two years after tragedy, Boulder has passed new laws. Whether all of them can be enforced is still up to a judge.

Boulder’s mayor says he thinks they’ve done everything they can on the local level. They want to see more change on the state and federal level. 

Wednesday marks two years since the shooting that killed ten people. Boulder is planning a memorial service in town on the evening of March 22.

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