Colorado Judge Blocks Boulder From Enforcing Assault Weapons, LCM Ban

A Colorado state judge last week blocked the city of Boulder from enforcing its 2-year-old ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in the city, ruling state law prohibits local governments from creating their own gun ownership restrictions.

The Denver Post reported that the Friday ruling by Colorado state Judge Andrew Hartman sets up the chance Colorado’s Supreme Court could review the issue.

“These provisions are invalid, and enforcement of them is enjoined,” Hartman wrote in the ruling Friday. “The Court has determined that only Colorado state (or federal) law can prohibit the possession, sale, and transfer of assault weapons and large capacity magazines.”

Boulder city attorneys are considering whether to appeal Hartman’s decision, city spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh told the Denver Post. The Boulder Police Department will not enforce the ordinance unless there is a later court ruling undoing Hartman’s decision, she added.

The Boulder City Council in 2018 passed two ordinances banning the possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines like the AR-15 in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

The city defined large-capacity magazines as “any ammunition-feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.” The assault weapon ban includes certain pistols and semi-automatic rifles with pistol grips, a folding or telescoping stock, or any protruding grip that allows a weapon to be stabilized with the non-trigger hand.

The ruling is the latest in a string of victories for gun advocates who have used state preemption laws to overturn strict local gun regulations, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

A Washington court struck down a local ordinance on gun storage in February 2021, and a Pennsylvania court struck down Pittsburgh’s attempt to regulate the use of AR-15s inside city limits in October 2019.

Jon Caldara, a former Denver Post columnist and Independence Institute president, told the Free Beacon he was thrilled by the ruling. He had publicly announced he wouldn’t comply with the Boulder order and turn over his AR-15 or ammunition magazines.

“I was probably the most publicly known criminal in Boulder,” he told the Free Beacon. “That made us social outcasts. And it was really bad. My daughter got bullied at school for our position.” 

“Boulder prides itself on tolerance and diversity and inclusion when, in fact, Boulder is by far the most bigoted city in Colorado,” he added. “And they particularly hate people who have guns. So, what I love about this ruling is it forces Boulder to live up to its stated pride of inclusivity and tolerance.” 

Caldara had filed a federal case over the matter — an action that had the support of the National Rifle Association, which also supported the state of Colorado’s case against Boulder.

“While the holding only applies to the Boulder ordinances, the principles behind the ruling will apply to other localities who are considering passing any similar counterproductive ordinances,” the NRA said in a statement last week.

The NRA said it expects Hartman’s ruling to hold, stating it was “very thoroughly and thoughtfully written,” making it “even harder to overturn, should the city appeal it.”

But Caldera told the Free Beacon he’s ready for any new battle to come.

“Since the case rested on the state’s preemption law, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gun-phobes in the legislature want to start taking a whack at our preemption,” he told the Free Beacon.

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