Moffat sheriff signs suit challenging Colorado gun laws
April 16, 2013
Craig — Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz is among county sheriffs throughout the state who are participating in a lawsuit against Colorado's new gun-control laws.
Jantz made the announcement Monday during a Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots meeting at the Center of Craig.
"I received the brief Friday, and I found it very well-written," Jantz told an audience of about 40 people. On Monday, "I officially signed my name on as part of the lawsuit."
Jantz's announcement spurred an ovation from local tea party members, but the sheriff said his colleague in Routt County has not received the same support from his community.
"I have received 98 percent positive feedback from people on my stance about the Second Amendment," Jantz said. "My counterpart in Routt County, Garrett Wiggins, who is a friend of mine, has not received the same support."
A call to Wiggins seeking comment has not been returned.
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The lawsuit is being organized by attorney Dave Kopel, an adjunct professor at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver and research director of the Independence Institute, also in Denver.
Kopel plans to challenge the constitutionality of House Bill 13-1224, which bans magazines of 15 or more rounds, and HB13-1229, which requires criminal background checks for all gun sales and transfers.
The suit questions whether the new laws violate the Second Amendment as well as the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty or property, Kopel said.
Although Kopel thinks the large-capacity magazine ban is really a ban on all magazines — because modern magazines feature removable floor plates and can be modified to hold more ammunition than intended by the manufacturer — he said he was motivated to file a lawsuit because of vague language about what constitutes a legal transfer.
"This law (HB13-1229) criminalizes normal activity, like if you were to lend a buddy a rifle for a four-day hunting trip," Kopel said. "If you're at a shooting range and you give a friend a (grandfathered) high-capacity magazine to borrow because he just broke his, then you’re both criminals under this law."
Local law enforcement officers have voiced their contention with Colorado's new gun-control laws for similar reasons.
"Like (Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta) alluded to last week, these laws aren't being written with anything less than the best intentions," Jantz said. "But the point (state lawmakers) are missing is we need to stop eroding and start enforcing the laws we already have."
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.