A federal judge has temporarily blocked the enactment of the city of Superior’s new gun safety rules, leaning heavily on a week-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited the government’s ability to regulate gun ownership.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore issued a 14-day restraining order against Superior, though the city had yet to respond to allegations from gun rights groups trying to overturn a recently issued ordinance. Moore’s order prevents two specific provisions of Ordinance 0-9 from going into effect this month: a ban on “assault weapons” and a ban on illegal weapons, which include certain knives, firearm magazines and percussion weapons.
“The court understands the city’s reasoning,” Moore wrote in his July 22 order. “However, the Court is not aware of any historical precedent that would allow a government agency to ban outright any type of weapon commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, whether in the home or in public.”
However, Moore allowed a third contested provision of the ordinance to go into effect, which banned the open carrying of firearms in public in general.
Pro-gun groups Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the National Association for Gun Rights filed a lawsuit in federal court against Joe Pelle, the sheriff of Superior and Boulder County, days after the Supreme Court’s conservative-majority 6-3 decision New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen. In repealing a concealed carry law in New York, the court recognized the constitutional right to carry a firearm outside the home and the requirement to consider whether state gun safety laws are consistent with a “historic tradition” of firearm regulation are.
Order 0-9, which the Board of Governors issued in June, contains several pages of rationale for the new law, which references Colorado’s status as home to several mass murders, including at an Aurora movie theater 10 years ago and at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder just last year.
“[Perpetrators of]the five deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history (Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs, and El Paso) used assault rifles with military-grade characteristics, and Colorado’s deadliest mass shooters have also used assault rifles or pistols,” states in the regulation. The city also pointed out that Congress enacted a decades-long ban on assault weapons in 1994, and asserted that assault weapons are not tools of self-defense.
The regulation defines assault weapons as semi-automatic centerfire rifles. Individuals who own assault weapons as of July 1 have until the end of the year to obtain a “Certificate of Ownership” from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. Going forward, there is a ban on owning additional offensive weapons.
Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on July 7 alleging portions of Regulations 0-9 violate the Second Amendment. They claimed they should not be “forced” to choose between exercising their constitutional rights and being prosecuted. Charles Bradley Walker, who is a sole plaintiff in the case, stated that he currently owns the large-capacity magazines banned by the ordinance.
“I own and currently own banned firearms in the city. I want to continue owning the banned firearms in town. Also, I want to acquire more banned firearms in the city,” Walker said.
That Brno Fall attracted massive interest from groups on both sides of the gun safety debate. Opponents of New York’s regulation argued that there was a long history of gun-carrying in public, while proponents cited data suggesting the type of regulation at issue is linked to lower rates of gun violence was brought.
Colorado’s four Democratic U.S. representatives signed a brief declaring that lawmakers “routinely address forms of gun violence that pose unique or growing societal threats.”
Nonetheless, Moore issued an injunction against portions of Regulation 0-9 after concluding that the contested provisions implied and would therefore under require the plaintiffs’ second amendment rights Brno that Superior’s actions are consistent with the “historical tradition” of American gun control. Regarding the ban on assault weapons, the judge said he was not aware of any history of banning all assault weapons in the city because guns registered as of 2022 would no longer be considered grandfathers upon the death of their owners.
He also didn’t think the city was likely to ban the possession and sale of illegal guns, including semi-automatic guns with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Moore pointed to estimates that AR-15 and AK-47 style guns outnumbered ownership of the Ford F-150, the most popular pickup truck in the United States.
“The Court therefore concludes that the conduct governed by this provision,” Moore wrote, “is covered, at least in part, by the Second Amendment and that such conduct is therefore presumptively protected.”
Moore took no action against a third section of Ordinance 0-9, which prohibits the open carrying of firearms in public places except for hunting, being in a vehicle, or being permitted by a property owner. Persons with a valid concealed carry permit are also unaffected.
Plaintiffs referred to it as a “blanket ban on carrying firearms” in Superior, but Moore wasn’t convinced the ordinance went too far.
“The plaintiffs have presented no arguments or information to the court as to why these licensing requirements are unreasonable or whether the exemption does not adequately protect their rights to openly carry weapons,” he wrote.
Superior has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit. Moore acknowledged the city may have evidence that could change its analysis of the regulations. He has scheduled a conference between the parties for July 29 and a hearing for August 4 on whether to issue an injunction against Order 0-9.
If Moore doesn’t act by August 5, the restraining order will be lifted.
The case is Rocky Mountain Gun Owners et al. v. The city of Superior et al.