Why don’t you take a more comprehensive approach?
While we would like to strengthen the gun rights of people of Colorado as much as possible, we didn’t see a logical way to write a comprehensive amendment that would survive the myriad of attacks it might face. Additionally, Section 13, Colorado’s right to bear arms amendment, is already comprehensive. We felt it was important to respect the rulings from the 1970s that declared the right to bear arms as not absolute. The right of the people has to be balanced with the right of the state to exercise its police powers for the welfare of the citizens.
Why don’t you challenge this in court instead?
Time, money, and logical reasoning. While we fully agree that magazines are protected by the 2nd amendment and that HB 1224 is unconstitutional, we feel that it is time to declare our rights in this matter. Court challenges can take years and millions of dollars, while the outcome is not assured. Additionally, even though we feel it is very likely that HB 1224 will face an injunction and a judicial overturn, we don’t think the ruling will be based on the 2nd amendment. We see the courts striking down HB 1224 on the reason that it is unenforceable and unconstitutionally vague. If a governor needs to have the attorney general draft a memo to explain the law and its enforcement before it even takes effect, chances are that it is vague.
What this really amounts to though is that the court won’t make a ruling upholding a 2nd amendment right to have gun magazines of any capacity, which amounts to a “do-over” for the General Assembly. We aim to make a “do-over” irrelevant, and if they move forward with it, we’ll require them to put it to the people for a vote.
Finally, Denver, like many other jurisdictions around the country, has had a magazine limit for 15 years (give or take). Even with new rulings in the past 6 years, we haven’t seen a single one of these limitations struck down by a court.
Why do you allow a vote of the people to implement gun magazine limits?
The easy answer is: we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. First, including the “exception language” softens the wording of the amendment to bring a more comprehensive support system among the various political beliefs. Second, it removes from our discussion the concept of an “absolute right”. Judges hate conflicts of absolutes – especially when the right of the state to protect the people conflicts directly with a right of the people to do something. By having the exception language, we cede the right of way to the government’s interests but we declare that their interest must pass the muster of a vote of the people. If a judge were to rule in the government’s interest without that exception language, there would not be a vote of the people.
What do you mean you had nothing to lose?
If the exception language was not included, the people of Colorado would have to overturn our proposed Amendment with a 50% + 1 vote. With the exception language included, the people of Colorado have to implement magazine limits with a 50% + 1 vote. What I am telling you is that your rights (at least at the state constitution level) are up for a popular vote, whether you would like to admit it or not.