Legal /

Federal Judge Blocks Colorado's Firearm Ban for 18- to 20-Year-Olds

Decision finds the law unconstitutional and holds that the age group has gun rights under the Second Amendment

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against a Colorado law that prevents firearms from being sold to individuals aged 18, 19 and 20.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Philip A. Brimmer, in a 44-page ruling, says that the state law (SB23-169) violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit was brought against Colorado Gov. Jared Polis by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), along with two other plaintiffs, Tate Mosgrove and Adrian Pineda.

Mosgrove and Pineda wanted to purchase firearms to carry legally and for self-defense use in their homes, but were barred from doing so under SB23-169.

“Since the day this legislation was introduced, we knew it was unconstitutional,” Taylor Rhodes, Executive Director for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said in a statement about the ruling.

“Under the Golden Dome, at the unveiling of this proposal, RMGO warned the bill sponsors this would quickly be struck down by a federal judge,” he said. “Today, our crystal ball became a reality. But it doesn’t stop here. We won’t stop fighting until every single unconstitutional anti-gun law is struck down.”

RMGO filed a temporary restraining order on Aug. 3, giving the state until noon on Aug. 8 to respond.

Brimmer stated that legal precedent has established that interpreting the Second Amendment’s language “the people” should begin with the assumption that every American is included.

Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen held that an appropriate way to evaluate the constitutionality of gun control laws is to consider whether the law has a “historical tradition” in the U.S.

Colorado officials argued that there is a longstanding history of placing age restrictions on gun purchases. Polis said that English common law, which American colonies followed, imposed age restrictions, and that since 18- to 20-year-olds did not have full contractual rights at the founding, they did not have unfettered commercial rights, which would extend to buying guns.

The governor also pointed to several 1800s-era laws, including those that held parents liable for a minor unlawfully discharging a weapon and penalizing selling gunpowder to people under the age of 15.

Brimmer said that Colorado has not shown a “historical tradition of firearm regulation” for 18- to 20-year-olds during the founding era, and ordered the law be stayed based on “a likelihood of success on the merits” on the question of whether that age group has rights under the Second Amendment.

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