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Gazette Premium Content El Paso County Commissioners back lawsuit against Colorado gun-control bills

By Garrison Wells Published: May 28, 2013

El Paso County Commissioners have hitched a ride on a lawsuit by 55 Colorado sheriffs who are fighting gun control bills passed this year by the Colorado General Assembly.

In a resolution passed unanimously Tuesday, the commissioners targeted House Bills 1224 and 1229.

HB 1224 imposes a ban on magazines made after June 1, 2013, that hold or were designed to be adapted to hold more than 15 rounds.

HB 1229 requires private buyers and sellers of guns to complete deals through a Federal Firearms Licensed Agent. It also requires mandatory background checks for temporary transfers longer than 72 hours and requires non-immediate family members who store and care for guns belonging to deployed military to go through background checks every 30 days.

Calling the laws "vague and unenforceable," the commissioners also directed County Attorney Amy Folsom to file a brief supporting the lawsuit, which was filed May 17 in federal court.

Folsom said her staff is looking at whether the county can file a brief that does not repeat what is already in the lawsuit.

"We will look at additional issues that the main lawsuit is not focusing on, perhaps unfunded mandates or another angle that citizens of El Paso County or elected officials are concerned about," she said. "We've got to take a long, hard look."

In the resolution, the commissioners contend there is "no empirical evidence to support the assertion that these laws will prevent violent crime, while there is clear evidence that they represent a great infringement on the rights and security of law abiding citizens" under the U.S. Constitution.

The resolution says one of HB 1224's flaws is that there is no way to determine whether a gun maker's intended its products to be expanded for 15 or more rounds when it was designed, according to the resolution. The law also is tough on those farmers and ranchers who own guns through their corporations and have to complete background checks on their employees every 30 days, the resolution says.

HB 1229 will make it hard for residents to find federally licensed agents for private gun sales because it requires the agents to file background check forms and be responsible for their accuracy, but caps the fee they can charge at $10, according to the resolution.

This is not the first time the commissioners have come out against the flurry of gun control bills in Colorado sparked, in part, by two high-profile cases: the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that killed 26, and the massacre in Aurora in July that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

The commissioners first took on gun control in January, when they passed a resolution that said they would not enforce federal or state laws that infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. That move was driven by County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

"This board tried to be proactive back in January to give the Legislature, if you will, a heads-up on how egregious we thought some of their bills were, because we know what the intent is," she said. "The intent is to make firearms illegal."

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