A lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of 54 Colorado sheriffs challenging the constitutionality of forthcoming gun reform measures is generating a response across the state. House bills 13-1229 and 13-1224 will expand background checks for all gun purchases and most transfers of ownership and limit the amount of ammunition gun magazines can hold starting in July.
Below are responses to the lawsuit from the state Senate majority office, Colorado attorney general, and the Colorado Farm Bureau.
Don Shawcroft spoke on behalf of the Colorado Farm Bureau during Friday's news conference. It is among 20 organizations, businesses and individuals also listed as plantiffs in the lawsuit:
"A ban on the number of rounds that a magazine can hold could mean the difference between life and death. If a farmer or rancher needs to take the time to reload his weapon when a predator such as a bear is advancing on himself or his livestock, he could potentially take too long, and lose his life or those livestock."
"Many family ag operations are incorporated, such as an LLC or partnership, and may also include non-family members as business partners. Requiring background checks for transfers between these partners creates an unfair burden to farmers and ranchers, as there are very few FFLs available to perform these background checks in rural areas."
"The requirements of these laws are unreasonable and may be nearly impossible for citizens to comply. When the legislature passed these bills, they were aiming at criminals, but hit the law-abiding citizens, farmers, ranchers and rural Colorado instead. These bills are bad for Colorado, and that is why we are engaging in a lawsuit against the state."
State Sen. Mary Hodge is the sponsor of the limited ammunition bill. She had the following to say about the sheriffs effort:
"We diligently crafted these public safety laws with respect given to the Second Amendment constitutional rights of every American. These laws were not constructed haphazardly; they were constructed to protect us from massacres like the ones we suffered in Aurora and Newtown. We worked with constitutional lawyers, and studied laws that we know worked in other states. We can't just sit by and do nothing while first-graders and moviegoers are being mowed down in one fell swoop with weapons equipped with large-capacity magazines."
"The sheriffs who are filing these lawsuits are playing politics and playing into the strategy of the east-coast based NRA elites. Some of these particular politicians have even vowed not to implement these moderate public safety laws. Reasonable Coloradans know that one doesn't need a large-capacity magazine for self-defense, and an instant background check isn't an inconvenience because it can save lives. These reasonable public safety laws yield to every one of our constitutional rights, including our Second Amendment rights, and they promote domestic tranquility, a guarantee in the preamble of our constitution. It's time to stop playing politics and start protecting Coloradans from massacres and unnecessary gun violence."
Finally, State Attorney General John Suthers issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
"In defending the lawsuit as counsel for the state, the objective of the Attorney General's Office will be to get court rulings on the legality of various aspects of the legislation as expeditiously as possible. Colorado citizens, and law-abiding gun owners in particular, deserve such clarification."
"In a signing memo attached to House Bill 13-1224, Governor John Hickenlooper directed the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General's Office to confer as to guidance to law enforcement in regard to some issues raised by the legislation. The agreed upon guidance is set forth in the attached letter from the Attorney General to the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety. This guidance will be disseminated to law enforcement pending further clarification that may be provided by court rulings."