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New Colorado gun measures could soon be dealt a blow from the Supreme Court

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Posted at 9:38 AM, Jun 12, 2022

DENVER — In the wake of several high-profile mass shootings, several Colorado communities—including Louisville and Boulder—have passed or are considering stronger gun control measures.

The Boulder City Council, for example, unanimously approved six ordinances that included a ban on assault weapons, restrictions on carrying guns in certain public places, and an age restriction on gun ownership for those under the age of 21 years. Even as they pass easily in respective councils, however, the legal future of these measures may be in jeopardy.

The ordinances—as well as laws in states across the country—could soon brush up against an impending Supreme Court ruling in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. The case questions the constitutionality of a law more than a century old in New York, which requires a person requesting a concealed carry permit to demonstrate the need for self defense.

Many scholars following the case, including Professor Ian Farrell at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, expect the Court to strike down the law in its ruling.

“The only question is how broad and sweeping will their opinion be,” Farrell said. “If the opinion is handed down in such a way that calls into question some of the laws and ordinances here in Colorado, then that would allow for a challenge to be made against those laws here in Colorado.”

Just how far-reaching the court’s decision will be could be answered soon, with an opinion anticipated this month. Farrell said recent laws and ordinances restricting guns in certain public places could in particular be in jeopardy, given a large amount of discussion on the topic among the court’s justices during oral arguments.

“It was unclear, to be honest, whether the court would even allow that,” Farrell explained. “So, when you look at that and compare it to some of the laws that are being passed at the moment with regard to rules saying that you're not allowed to carry a gun in Denver in a public place or public park—it looks like it would be severely under attack, or at least significantly threatened if the court was to go so far as to say, ‘you can only ban weapons, if at all, in sensitive places.’”

Professor Farrell said he expects the ruling to be written in response to New York’s law specifically, meaning measures in Colorado would not immediately be overruled; however, they could then be challenged by lawyers in the next term, pointing to the decision in this case.