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Legal Challenge Already Planned To Gun Control Laws

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Gov. Hickenlooper signs gun control bills into law on Wednesday. (credit: CBS)

Gov. Hickenlooper signs gun control bills into law on Wednesday. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4)- There are already legal challenges being planned to two of the gun control bills signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday.

The lead plaintiffs are sheriffs from around Colorado. They claim the laws violate not only the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. but the 14th Amendment which requires laws to be easy to understand.

Even Hickenlooper felt the need to clarify the language after he signed the bills into law.

“Any highly contentious bill is never going to be perfect,” said Hickenlooper.

He released a so-called signing statement.

“What we wanted to do is just provide a little clarity,” said Hickenlooper.

That is something many sheriffs around Colorado believe is missing from the laws.

“The governor refused to meet with them, the legislature ignored them so their claims now will be heard in federal court,” said Independence Institute spokesman Dave Kopel.

Kopel is a constitutional law expert at the Independence Institute. He said the sheriffs are filing a lawsuit to block the laws that they argue are unconstitutional.

Kopel said the Second Amendment prohibits the government from outlawing commonly-owned firearms and accessories like the magazines banned under the new law.

“Even if there were no specific constitutional rights involved, as is here with the right to keep and bear arms, laws on anything must at least pass the rational basis test,” said Kopel.

Kopel said the 14th Amendment requires statutes to be rational and clear so that they can be enforced fairly.

“And as the sheriffs have repeatedly said these laws are not enforceable,” said Kopel.

Kopel said Hickenlooper knows it because his staff called the Independence Institute hours before the signing for “clarity.”

“In a way his signing statement where he tries to fix the defective statute underscores the defectiveness of the statute,” said Kopel.

Hickenlooper released his signing statement Wednesday afternoon. He said in signing the magazine bill he acknowledges there are concerns about the vagueness of some parts of it.

Hickenlooper also said he has directed the Department of Public Safety to consult with the Attorney General about how to interpret the law and then issue guidance on how to enforce it to police and sheriffs throughout the state.

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