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Colorado Sheriffs Suing Over Gun Control Measures

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El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa stands with other Colorado sheriffs on May 17, 2013. (credit: CBS)

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa stands with other Colorado sheriffs on May 17, 2013. (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4/AP) – Most of Colorado’s elected sheriffs are trying to strike new gun restrictions with a federal lawsuit against the state that argues the laws violate the right to bear arms.

The laws passed this spring limit the size of ammunition magazines and expand background checks to private and online firearm sales. The lawsuit was filed Friday morning.

“What the Supreme Court said is you may not prohibit arms which are typically owned by law-abiding persons for lawful purposes,” said Independence Institute spokesman Dave Kopel.

The majority of sheriffs involved in the lawsuit represent rural, gun-friendly areas of the state. They argue the laws set to take effect July 1 have many flaws that will make it nearly impossible for citizens to comply with and they insist the measures won’t improve public safety.

A total of 54 sheriffs from across Colorado signed onto the suit along with the Colorado Farm Bureau and several gun rights organizations.

The sheriffs said the laws violate not only the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, by outlawing a commonly-owned firearm but the 14th Amendment which requires laws be easily understand so they can be enforced fairly.

“And in their rush to pass new laws they didn’t bother listening to the people charged with enforcing the law. We tried telling the governor but he would not even meet with us. We tried telling the state legislators but a narrow majority of them refused to listen,” said Weld County Sheriff John Cook.

The suit also alleges the magazine limit violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, compromising their self defense because “They can’t change magazines quickly.”

“We will not stand by silently while good citizens are deprived of their rights and criminalized,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

The sheriffs said they are using private funds only for the suit.

The measures were a response to mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut last year. Victims’ relatives accused the sheriffs of playing politics.

Rep. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat representing Aurora, said she’s confident the court will uphold the laws.

Tom Mauser fought for gun control measures after his son, Daniel, was killed during the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999.

“I thought our sheriffs would want to make sure the wrong people don’t get a hold of a gun,” said Mauser.

No law is perfect he said, but after two of the country’s worst mass shootings taking place in Colorado, these are laws we need.

“When you’ve gone through that and seen at least some steps we can take to keep guns out of the wrong hands I can’t understand why we still have a number of people who won’t even budge on taking those basic steps,” said Mauser.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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