Apropos news from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, hearing the case of a bunch of elected Colorado sheriffs vs. Gov. John Hickenlooper, seeking to overturn the state’s landmark 2013 gun safety laws–in particular the laws requiring background checks on most private gun transfers, and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Tomorrow, the Senate State Affairs Committee will consider the second bill this session that would repeal the magazine limit.
Here’s the decision released earlier today. The 2013 gun laws remain the law of the land:
Several organizations, individuals, and businesses brought suit against Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, arguing the statutes violate the Second Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But it was clear from this litigation’s inception that the plaintiffs’ standing to assert these claims was less than assured; the parties litigated the issue at every turn. As the result of one of these bouts of jurisdictional wrangling, the district court concluded several Colorado sheriffs lacked standing to bring their claims and dismissed them from the case.
After a nine-day bench trial, the district court expressed skepticism that any of the remaining plaintiffs had established standing to challenge § 18-12-112 and § 18-12-302. Nevertheless, “with the benefit of some generous assumptions,” it found that at least one plaintiff had standing to challenge each statute. App. at 1762. After winning the jurisdictional battle, however, the plaintiffs ultimately lost the war; the district court entered judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims…
Because the plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of establishing Article III standing, the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider their claims. We therefore affirm the district court’s order dismissing the sheriffs’ claims and its denial of the subsequent motion to alter or amend that order; vacate the district court’s order granting judgment in favor of the defendant; remand with directions to dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction; and dismiss the parties’ pending motions as moot.
The short version is that Independence Institute lawyer Dave Kopel and the county sheriff plaintiffs in this suit already lost their case against the 2013 gun safety laws on the merits in federal district court. Today’s appeals court ruling rejects the standing of the sheriffs and other plaintiffs to bring their suit to begin with, and vacates the sheriffs’ prior loss with an order to dismiss the case entirely.
Some proponents of the 2013 laws might have actually preferred that ruling upholding the laws on the merits stand, but there’s certainly nothing about this that helps the longshot legal case against laws for which ample precedent exists–an effort that is reportedly nonetheless very lucrative for the Independence Institute in terms of fundraising, if not so much a winner, you know, in the courtroom.
Don’t worry–this case, or some version thereof, has at least a couple good rounds of fundraising left in it.