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Colorado’s near-decade-old magazine limit faces challenge after Supreme Court ruling

Former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper pushed to pass the magazine limitation in the wake of the Aurora Theater Shooting in 2012 where 12 were murdered and dozens injured.

DENVER (CN) — Gun rights groups sued Colorado Governor Jared Polis in federal court on Thursday, challenging a near-decade-old ban on large capacity magazines that was passed following a 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater that left 12 dead.

"The magazine ban infringes on plaintiffs’ right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment by generally prohibiting the possession of arms that are commonly possessed by millions of Americans for lawful purposes,” argued the 8-page lawsuit. "Plaintiffs should not be forced to choose between risking criminal prosecution and exercising their constitutional rights."

The National Foundation for Gun Rights joined Colorado residents Benjamin Gates and Travis Swartz as plaintiffs on the lawsuit. In the complaint, Gates and Swartz say they want to replace the magazines they owned prior to the law going into effect on July 1, 2013 and to be able to transfer the device to their family members. The men say the state’s magazine ban infringes on their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

“The magazine ban uses politically charged rhetoric to describe the arms it bans. The magazine ban’s characterization of these magazines as ‘large capacity’ is a misnomer,” the complaint argues. “Magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds are standard capacity magazines.”

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the prohibition into law following the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting where 12 people were murdered and an estimated 70 injured. The law prohibits the sale of large-capacity magazines, defined as “a fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip, or similar device capable of accepting, or that is designed to be readily converted to accept, more than fifteen rounds of ammunition.”

This marks the second gun rights lawsuit filed against Colorado following the Supreme Court’s June decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen where the court found “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of ‘ordinary, law-abiding citizens’ to ‘carry handguns publicly for self-defense.'”

The Rocky Mountain Gunowners Association sued on July 7 challenging the town of Superior’s assault rifle ban. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the law from going into effect at the end of the month as planned.

In light of the fact the number of AR- and AK-style weapons sold in the U.S. were more than twice the number of Ford F-150s — the most commonly driven vehicle in the country — the Fourth Circuit previously acknowledged tens of millions of Americans lawfully own the controversial semiautomatic weapon.

The National Foundation for Gun Rights estimated tens of millions of Americans own semi-automatic firearms with magazines exceeding the 15-round limitation. The group reported 41 individuals have been prosecuted for violating the magazine ban since December 2016.

The plaintiffs ask the court to prevent the state from enforcing the magazine ban and to award attorneys’ fees. They are represented by Denver attorney Barry Arrington.

A representative for the governor’s office declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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