Apr 15, 2013 8:42 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - A majority of Colorado Sheriffs have joined together in a lawsuit to try and block two of the state's new gun laws from taking effect. In all, 37 of the 64 county sheriffs in the state, including El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, are filing the civil right's suit claiming the language of House Bill 1224 and House Bill 1229 is unconstitutional.
"When a legislature enacts an unconstitutional law it puts the sheriffs in a dilemma," explained attorney Dave Kopel of the conservative think tank the Independence Institute which is representing the sheriffs in the case.
HB 1224 bans ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. When it was passed last month, supporters said the law would save lives by forcing gunmen in mass shootings like the Aurora Theater and Sandy Hook Elementary massacres to reload more frequently.
However, the law also allows gun owners to keep high-capacity magazine that were purchased before the law takes effect. Sheriff Maketa says it's virtually impossible to tell whether a magazine was purchased before the ban or after.
"We're expected to enforce a law that there is no identifiable difference between one manufactured before July 1st of this year and one manufactured after," Maketa said.
House Bill 1229 expands the existing universal background check requirements to include any transfer of a firearm. The law's backers want to make it harder for guns to fall into the hands of criminals.
The sheriffs believe the opposite is true.
"These bills (take) aim directly at law abiding citizens in suppressing their lawful ownership and use, especially defensive use, of firearms," said Kopel, who is also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver.
The Independence Institute is taking the case to court pro-bono. If they should win, Kopel said they will ask for that the state to cover the legal fees. If they should lose, he said the institute will cover those costs.
The state will be defended by the attorney general.