El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder has joined other Colorado sheriffs in decrying a high-capacity gun magazine ban that’s now being challenged in the Colorado Supreme Court.
About half of the sheriffs of the state’s 64 counties argued in a legal brief that civilians should have access to larger magazines carried by police to protect themselves and others.
The sheriffs, along with the Colorado Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association and the libertarian Independence Institute, filed the brief in the Colorado Supreme Court this week.
“Sheriffs and deputies possess standard capacity magazines — up to about 20 rounds for handguns, and 30 rounds for rifles —for the same reason that law-abiding citizens should: they are best for lawful defense of self and others,” Independence Institute Research Director Dave Kopel wrote in the briefing.
It came in support of a 2016 lawsuit, brought by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other groups challenging the constitutionality of a state law that bans possession of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
Law enforcement agencies are exempt from the ban, which became law in 2013 in the wake of the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting that killed 12 and injured 58. The shooter used a high-capacity magazines.
Sheriffs who joined Elder in the brief include Jason Mikesell of Teller County, Steve Reams of Weld County, Jeff Shrader of Jefferson County, Tim Norton of Elbert County and Allen Cooper of Fremont County.
“They believe this legislation needs to be overturned,” said Jacqueline Kirby, a spokeswoman for Elder’s office. “They are going to take it as far as they can in hopes to see that happen.”
Elder, a Republican, recently emerged as an opponent of another piece of gun-related legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in April.
Elder threatened to sue the state over the “red flag” measure, which allows a court-ordered seizure of weapons from a person deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. He’s said the seizure law violates constitutional rights, including those afforded by the Second Amendment.
He has considered filing a similar legal brief voicing his opposition to the red-flag law in another lawsuit brought by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Kirby said.
The Colorado gun rights group and Republican lawmakers filed a lawsuit in May, arguing that Democratic lawmakers violated legislative process when the bill was considered by the state House.