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Closing Arguments in Gun-Control Trial

DENVER (CN) - Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger put attorneys to the test Thursday during closing arguments in the trial challenging the constitutionality of Colorado gun control laws.

Thirty-one plaintiffs claim that three state gun laws signed into law in 2013 are unconstitutional. The laws include a ban on magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, regulations on private transfers and universal background checks.

Plaintiffs' counsel started his closing argument by saying the laws convert firearms "into an ashtray that you can throw."

Krieger interrupted to say she did not care what the plaintiffs felt about the laws, she wanted to know what evidence they had to make a constitutional argument.

"Can you show me where those amendments were directly addressed?" Krieger asked in the middle of attorney Richard Westfall's arguments.

Krieger asked why plaintiffs, especially farmers, stated that background check regulations posed a burden.

Westfall said that the law requires someone to get a background check every time he or she is given a gun.

"That theory is what I have a question about," Krieger said. "Once it is done, isn't that sufficient?"

"The law was written with such strictness because it assumes that Joe Hand and Farmer Brown will have to go down every four to five days for a background check," Westfall responded.

Krieger asked whether entities have Second Amendment rights.

"How do we collectively hold or fire a firearm? That requires dexterity of an individual's hand," she said.

"I would suggest that that kind of literalism is excessive," plaintiffs' attorney David Kopel said.

Krieger asked defense attorney Matthew Grove about limits on magazine size and how it relates to the Constitution.

"Do you concede that a magazine is considered an arm in the scope of the Second Amendment?" Krieger said.

"Virtually all guns can function without a high capacity magazine," Grove responded.

"But would you concede that for semi-automatic firearms, a magazine is part of the gun and therefore an arm?"

"Yes, I would concede that," Grove replied.

In closing, plaintiffs' counsel said that Krieger's job was to provide a check on the Legislature.

The judge fired back: "No, sir! My role on this court is whether the statutes are constitutional."

Krieger said she will issue a written opinion. She did not indicate when that will be.

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