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May 17, 2013 8:35 PM by Andy Koen

Sheriffs file lawsuit seeking overturn of gun laws

DENVER - Most of county sheriffs in Colorado have joined in a lawsuit against the state over the new gun control laws. In all, 54 of the state's 64 sheriffs have signed on as plaintiffs in the suit which seeks to overturn the high capacity magazine ban and expanded background checks.

The sheriffs announced the filing of their suit at a news conference held Friday morning in the lobby of the Independence Institute. The conservative public policy research group is representing the sheriffs in court pro-bono.

"It's difficult to enforce and difficult to comply with," explained attorney David Kopel.

Weld County Sheriffs John Cooke made clear the motivation behind the suit is policy and not politics.

"We're not the ones playing politics with this," Cooke said. "We believe the legislature were the ones that were playing politics. We're standing up for our constituents and the constitution."

When asked whether he would enforce the laws, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa replied, "It's not a matter of whether I chose to enforce it or not, it's unenforceable."

The suit also claims lawmakers violated the American's with Disabilities Act by denying gun owners who are disabled the right to defend themselves using the more convenient high-capacity magazines.

"We're hoping that the court will hear it soon and issue a timely decision protecting people's safety and their rights," Kopel said.

Colorado Attorney General Johns Suthers, who will defend the state in this lawsuit, says he too wants to get things going quickly.

"In defending the lawsuit as counsel for the state, the objective of the Attorney General's Office will be to get court rulings on the legality of various aspects of the legislation as expeditiously as possible," Suthers said in a statement. "Colorado citizens, and law-abiding gun owners in particular, deserve such clarification."

Suthers also released a letter drafted by his office to the Colorado Department of Public Safety offering guidance to officers on how to interpret the language of HB-1224. That letter is expected to be circulated among various law enforcement agencies in the state.

It suggests high-capacity magazine owners who were grandfathered in under the law could still lock those items in the truck, hand them to a gunsmith for service or lend them to a friend at the shooting range.

The new gun control laws are set to take effect July 1.

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