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March 22, 2016 02:46 PM UTC

Federal Court Rejects Sheriff Gun Law Appeal

  • by: Colorado Pols

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.


22 thoughts on “Federal Court Rejects Sheriff Gun Law Appeal

      1. Whatever happened to the Wray Eagle?  It was famous for the motto (admittedly somewhat jocularly translated) as "The only newspaper in the whole world that gives a damn about Wray."

        1. The Wray Gazwrte has been the official newspaper since The Wray Rattler' gave it up long ago. The 'Eagle' is the school mascot, best known for embarrassing Dragon fans at state wresting meets 🙂

  1. What's next in the gun extremists bag of tricks – storm a wildlife refuge armed to the teeth and demand guns be delivered to ever man, woman and child in the country?

    That's about the point we have reached in their meltdown. 

    1. The last statistic I saw which might be out of date at this point is that there are 300 million firearms in the US which is about 1.5 per person.  We don need no stinkin government handout pardner.

        1. They always were miserly with their toys.  What a repellent thought having both Gardner and Neville representing the ammosexuals in Congress.

          Note to self:  "Send the corporate sellout another donation.  Forgive me Bernie.  I have sinned for thinking that there are worse calamities than taking money from quasi-humans. What a disaster Neville would be as a senator."

  2. After seeing the utter insanity in Brussels today, it is difficult to overlook the similarities in how extremists believe what they believe regardless of the facts and disturbing quite frankly.  Year after year the American 'militia' are told that government is coming to take their guns and if they are "true' patriots then they have to consider armed rebellion to preserve their freedoms and way of life.  All attempts to allay this propaganda with simple phrases like "There is no conspiracy to take your guns" have no impact on these paranoid individuals.  It is a ticking time bomb.

    1. There's another lesson our ammosexual friends tell us. Those bombs would never have gone off if there had been a good guy with a gun around.

  3. I am more wary of  teens in camo and confederate flag gear, who occasionally proclaim "White Pride World Wide"  here on the northeast plains than I ever was of the gangster wannabes in urban schools. They do share a common paranoia and "us-against-them" mentality.

    The difference is that the police already target the urban youngsters because of their skin colors and dress. City kids will be expelled from school if they get too blatant about their gang affiliations. Police and administrators already know who is a real threat. 

    Out here, everyone dismisses "white gangsterism" as "Boys will be boys", and "We don't want to piss off the community", "Gotta preserve the first and second amendments".

    And no, the solution is not to arm teachers.

  4. Dismissing it on the merits as the 10th Circuit did today is only marginally different than what the District judge originally ruled. (The district judge ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show that their rights would be infringed.) On a technicality, I think the 10th Circuit ruling was the more accurate application of legal principles, but the effect is pretty much the same.

  5. It's actually not a dismissal on the merits, but on jurisdictional grounds (in this case for lack of Article III standing).  So the same case can be brought again if a plaintiff with standing can be found.  It also sets up a possible Supreme Court appeal on the jurisdictional issue, which I think the Court would be much more likely to take up than the question whether the magazine limit violates the Second Amendment.

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