Bans on AR-15 rifles and similar guns are at odds with the Second Amendment, a federal judge determined on Friday.
U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore, an Obama appointee, issued a temporary restraining order against Superior, Colorado’s ban on “assault weapons.” The judge cited the Supreme Court’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling extensively in one of the first significant decisions since the landmark case.
“In its simplest terms, the Second and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit governments from preventing ‘law abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,'” Moore said of the Court’s conclusion in Bruen.
Employing the test created in Bruen, he ruled the town’s ban is unconstitutional.
“The conduct regulated by this provision of the Amended Code, the right to possess, sell, or transfer illegal weapons, (which, as defined, include weapons commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes), is covered, at least in part, by the Second Amendment, and therefore that conduct is presumptively protected,” Moore wrote.
If other courts applying the logic of Bruen find similar bans also run afoul of the Second Amendment, it could lead to changes all over the country. Seven states and the District of Columbia already have assault weapons bans. While support for such bans has been dropping, many Democrats in Congress are currently pushing for a federal version despite dim prospects for success.
Judge Moore said he couldn’t identify historical precedent for the town’s ban, which was a key part of the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the Bruen case that found New York’s gun-carry regime unconstitutional.
“The Court is sympathetic to the Town’s stated reasoning,” Moore wrote. “However, the Court is unaware of historical precedent that would permit a governmental entity to entirely ban a type of weapon that is commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, whether in an individual’s home or in public.”
He ruled there was “a strong likelihood” the Plaintiffs, including gun-rights groups Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and National Association for Gun Rights, “will be successful on the merits” in the case, which met the standard for a temporary restraining order against the law’s enforcement.
Superior’s ordinance, which had the backing of gun-control groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, banned anything meeting its definitions of “an assault weapon, large-capacity magazine, rapid-fire trigger activator, blackjack, gas gun, metallic knuckles, gravity knife or switchblade knife.” Moore ruled against the provisions banning the sale and possession of these weapons and requiring people already in possession of them to dispose of them or apply for a certificate to continue to legally own them, although he upheld the provision prohibiting open carry without a permit.
“Thus, while the Supreme Court has concluded that the Constitution prohibits certain, unreasonable licensing requirements, it has not held that all such requirements are unconstitutional,” Moore said.
His ruling also did not extend to the other assault weapons bans in a handful of other Colorado towns.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners executive director Taylor Rhodes released a statement on social media Friday celebrating the decision as “a massive win for gun rights in the State of Colorado.”
“Today, the judge affirmed what we already knew to be true, under the Second Amendment and the Bruen ruling,” Rhodes said. “The Town of Superior doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Officials in Superior told the Denver Post they were not able to comment on pending litigation. The preliminary injunction hearing will be held on August fifth in Denver.