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10th Cir. Stands Behind New Colorado Gun Laws

DENVER (CN) - Gun control laws adopted by Colorado in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting did not significantly restrict the rights of the state's gun owners, the 10th Circuit Ruled.

The Colorado Outfitters Association, Outdoor Buddies and Women for Concealed Carry, along with other pro-gun groups and several local sheriffs, sued Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2013 shortly after the passage of two laws they saw as restricting their rights.

One of the two house bills the Hickenlooper helped champion banned guns that are capable of using - or can be adapted to use - more than fifteen rounds of ammunition.

The other mandated universal background checks for gun buyers and borrowers.

The passage of the bills was fueled by public outrage over the deadly shooting at a midnight premier of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises" at a Century theater in Aurora, Colorado, in June of 2012.

Former University of Colorado, Anschutz student James Holmes spent months buying multiple hand guns, assault rifles, shotguns, and over 3,000 rounds of ammunition, before he stormed a theater of full of people, killing 12 and injuring 70. The cold-blooded murders caused an outcry for new rules that would add more safeguards against random violence to the gun-buying process.

The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of both laws, but their case was dismissed by a federal judge in 2014 for lack of standing.

They immediately appealed to the 10th Circuit, arguing that by causing Coloradans who already certain kinds of firearms to suddenly endure an extra level of scrutiny, the state had violated their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights, along with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel dismissed the gun advocates' case, finding that there claims held no weight.

"The mere possibility that 'some day' a member of Outdoor Buddies might wish to obtain or retain a firearm before or after a hunt and that he or she might then experience difficulties obtaining the requisite background check is insufficient," U.S. Circuit Judge Nancy Moritz wrote.

The panel was also unswayed by the plaintiffs' claim the new laws violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Outdoor Buddies had advanced a hypothetical scenario in which a disabled person might want to borrow a gun for a day or two for the purposes of legal hunting, but obtaining the necessary background check "'could' be difficult," due to any disability.

But the panel rejected the scenario, holding that an ADA claim has to be demonstrated specifically by the disabled individual.

Because the claim made by Outdoor Buddies was not brought on behalf of its members it had no constitutional standing, the panel found.

The plaintiffs also argued that the new laws "criminalized," basic job duties for the named sheriffs, including the simple transfer of a gun used at a crime scene to a lab. But the judges determined that such an action was hardly going to create a cause for litigation.

"We find any threat of prosecution based on the sheriff's' performance of their official job duties to be purely speculative," Moritz wrote.

Several of the plaintiffs expressed an interest in continuing the press the case.

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