I hope the taxpayers in Boulder County, Colorado are ready to pay some attorneys fees, because several new ordinances set to be imposed by county commissioners are sure to face a court challenge and face long odds of survival.
The Supreme Court just said in its decision in NYSPRA v. Bruen that in order to survive a constitutional challenge, gun control laws must fall within the historical scope of gun regulations as well as comport with the text of the Second Amendment itself. That’s definitely not the case with the new restrictions unveiled in Boulder County on Wednesday.
The five measures include limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds instead of Colorado’s 15-round limit; extending the waiting period after purchasing firearms from three to 10 days; banning guns from county property and “sensitive places” such as bars; prohibiting firearms without serial numbers; and raising the minimum gun purchasing age from 18 to 21.
If the proposals pass, Boulder County will join other Colorado cities including Denver and Louisville in what some lawmakers hope to be a wave of local action across the state.
“It’s exactly what we intended when we passed the law,” said Stephen Fenberg, the Colorado Senate president who sponsored the 2021 bill. “It’s heartening.”
It’s also going to be pretty short-lived, at least in most cases. Just last week the Supreme Court vacated decisions upholding 10-round magazine bans in California and New Jersey and ordered a re-hearing of the cases in the Ninth and Third Circuits, as well as vacating and remanding a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that found Maryland’s ban on so-called assault weapons in compliance with the Second Amendment. That’s not a guarantee that SCOTUS will overturn those laws when the cases reach them for a second time, but it’s a pretty good indication that the Court views those laws with plenty of skepticism.
Bans on gun sales to under-21s could also be on the Supreme Court’s radar before long, with challenges pending in both the Ninth and Eleventh Circuits. In fact, a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit recently overturned California’s ban on sales of so-called assault weapons to those under the age of 21, while a trial judge in Florida upheld that state’s ban on all gun sales to under-21s, but expressed discomfort and doubt about the underlying precedent requiring him to do so.
The expanded list of “sensitive places” in Boulder County is also ripe for judicial review if it goes into effect. Not only is lawful concealed carry banned from all government buildings and within 500 feet of polling places, it’s also banned in all public parks, restaurants that serve alcohol, “healthcare faciliities”, theaters, and grocery stores. Those are pretty broad restrictions, and
A murderous loser demonstrated with deadly effectiveness the utter uselessness of gun-free zones when he slaughtered ten people and injured two others in a Boulder grocery store last year, and yet the county commissioners are doubling down on the idea that we’ll all be safer when we’re all unable to protect ourselves or others in public without committing a misdemeanor offense. Can they explain how a madman set on murdering as many innocent people as possible is going to be dissuaded in the slightest by the possibility of a fine and a few days in jail if he’s caught carrying a gun where he’s not allowed? If so, I’d love to hear it.
The good news is that there’s still time for the Boulder County Commission to do the right thing and pull these ordinances from consideration. A final vote on the five ordinances is expected on August 2nd, and the public will have an opportunity to sound off in person before commissioners cast their deciding vote.
Honestly, though, even if there are far more opponents than supporters of the ordinances the measures are gonna get approved by the county commission. They’re too invested in the idea of banning their way to safety to back off now, and it’s not like the attorneys’ fees the county is likely to have pay when it loses its case is going to come out of commissioners’ paychecks. It’ll be taxpayers on the hook for the commission’s willful decision to continue treating the right to keep and bear arms as a privilege to be doled out by elected officials.