SUPERIOR, Colo. — The temporary restraining order preventing the town of Superior from enforcing certain new gun restrictions does not impact similar restrictions in Boulder, Louisville and Lafayette.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) sued the town of Superior in federal court following the town council's passage of new gun restrictions on June 7.
U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore granted RMGO a temporary restraining order preventing Superior from enforcing two of the town ordinance's new restrictions.
One part of the ordinance banned "illegal weapons." Another part bans certain assault weapons.
The ordinance defines "illegal weapons" as:
- Assault weapon
- Large-capacity magazine (holding more than 10 rounds)
- Rapid-fire trigger activator
- Gas gun
- Metallic knuckles
- Gravity knife
- Switchblade knife
The ordinance also defines assault weapons as most "semi-automatic center-fire" rifles and pistols.
It spells out how assault weapons can be legally kept if owned by July 1, 2022, and if the person obtains a certificate to own the weapon by Dec. 31, 2022.
However, if a person inherits an assault weapon, they will have to make it inoperable, turn it in or get it out of the town of Superior.
"The Court is unaware of a historical precedent that would permit the Town of Superior to impose such a regulation that would, in reality, eventually ban all assault weapons," Moore wrote in the temporary restraining order.
"Just because you call something 'illegal' versus 'legal' in a statute doesn't answer the constitutional question under the Second Amendment," said constitutional law attorney Jessica Smith.
For instance, the state bans large-capacity magazines that hold 15 or more rounds. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld that ban in 2020.
Superior banned large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
"Is it common in the United States to have magazines that have 10 rounds? If the answer is yes, then you can't, without going through the Second Amendment analysis, ban it," said Smith.
Even though Superior has to stop enforcing those two provisions of the ordinance, the three other Boulder County cities that passed gun restrictions do not have to stop.
"In the meantime those laws are on the books. The temporary restraining order doesn't affect the other municipalities from enforcing their existing gun laws," said Smith. "It doesn't bode well for those laws if the plaintiff decides to sue or expand their lawsuit to include those."
RMGO Executive Director Taylor Rhodes told Next with Kyle Clark that the group was considering suing the other municipalities, but that expense was a concern. He said the group sued Superior since it was the first to pass the new law, and that if you win against one, all others will fall.
Moore relied on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a New York City law, which required gun owners to provide a specific need for carrying a gun outside of their home before they would be granted a conceal carry license.
"The way that the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Second Amendment, and the direction that it's taken the Second Amendment, it is more difficult than it used to be to ban particular types of guns, particular types of accessories or weapons," said Smith.
One of the stated reasons that Superior passed the gun ordinance was because of the Boulder King Soopers shooting in 2021.
"The Court is sympathetic to the Town's stated reasoning. However, the Court is unaware of historical precedent that would permit a governmental entity to entirely ban a type of weapon that is commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, whether in an individual's home or in public," Moore wrote.
Superior and the other three cities could try to re-write their laws, within the bounds of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
"It doesn't necessarily matter that the state of Colorado allows municipalities to go further than the state wants to go. The real question is does the municipality's law fall within the restrictions that are allowed by the federal Second Amendment?" said Smith. "The very easy example that courts seem to universally agree is that the states can bar felons, for instance, from carrying guns."
Superior's mayor told Next with Kyle Clark that the board will discuss this in the Monday council meeting's executive session.
"If Superior wants to fix its code, it can, and it could potentially moot this lawsuit and this decision," said Smith.
Boulder's mayor said that the city attorney was reviewing the temporary restraining order.
A Louisville spokeswoman said that there are no discussions to change the city's recent ordinance.
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