Gun rights groups file federal lawsuit against Colorado ghost gun ban

Groups want a federal court to overturn Colorado's ban, calling it unconstitutional
Ghost Guns
Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-03 13:13:10-05

DENVER — Gun rights advocates say they have filed a federal lawsuit, challenging a new Colorado law banning unserialized guns, which are also known as ghost guns.

Taylor Rhodes, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of three of its members, said the law is an "outright assault on the constitutional rights" of peaceable Coloradans. The National Association for Gun Rights is also named as a plaintiff.

"It's not just an overreach; it's a direct defiance to our Second Amendment freedoms," Rhodes said.

Gun rights groups file federal lawsuit against Colorado ghost gun ban

Ghost guns are available for purchase online and assembled at home — without a background check. A 3-D printer can also make them.

Gun control advocates said that’s what makes them potentially dangerous.

State Rep. Junie Joseph, D-Boulder, said you can trace other guns to a person.

“But a ghost gun is untraceable,” she continued. “That makes it even more dangerous.”

Joseph was one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 23-279, which the governor signed into law last June.

Starting Jan. 1, the law prohibits “knowingly possessing, purchasing, transporting, or receiving” a gun that is not imprinted with a serial number and “knowingly selling, offering to sell, or transferring” a gun that is not imprinted with a serial number.

Ghost gun owners must have their guns serialized by a licensed dealer and undergo a background check. Failure to do so can result in them being charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class 5 felony for subsequent offenses.

“In a country where we care deeply about the rule of law and justice, we should not have ghost guns in our community,” Joseph said.

Authorities say the Club Q shooter in Colorado Springs and the student who shot two administrators at Denver’s East High School last year possessed ghost guns.

Law enforcement officials who supported the bill said ghost guns are being used in more crimes.

But opponents say banning ghost guns will do little to improve safety.

“A criminal who doesn’t want to go through a background check, in my opinion, isn’t just going to throw up their hands and say, ‘Welp, I guess I can’t commit that crime now,'” said Sen. Tim Smallwood, R-Douglas County.

Rhodes said a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen makes Colorado’s law less likely to stand up to scrutiny.

"In the Bruen decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that any law infringing on the right to bear arms must align with the historical understanding of the Second Amendment. Senate Bill 23-279 clearly does not meet this standard. If homemade — unserialized — guns weren't legal at the time of our nation's founding, we would all have a British accent," Rhodes said.

Joseph said she’s "deeply saddened" the ban is being challenged.

“We know for sure that Coloradans — they want gun violence prevention laws in place. So, that flies in the face of what the community wants,” she said.

According to the gun control advocacy group Everytown, Colorado is among 13 states with laws regulating ghost guns.

The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners are also challenging two other Colorado gun laws that were passed last year.

One of the laws requires a three-day waiting period before a gun can be purchased. A federal judge declined the Rocky Mountain Gun Owner's request to block the law. The matter is now before an appeals court.

4 gun control policies become law Friday morning, months after deadly mass shooting in Colorado Springs

The group is also challenging a law that raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21. A federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing this law, for now.

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