A new Colorado law raising the age to purchase all firearms in the state to 21 could be blocked for weeks, months or possibly even years after a federal judge Friday declined a request from Gov. Jared Polis to let the measure take effect.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer earlier this month temporarily barred the state from enforcing Senate Bill 169, which was passed by Democrats in the legislature this year and signed into law by Polis, who is also a Democrat.
In blocking the law through a preliminary injunction, Brimmer found that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line gun rights group based in Colorado, was likely to succeed in its lawsuit seeking to invalidate the law on Second Amendment grounds.
Polis filed a motion last week asking Brimmer to let the law go into effect pending an appeal of the injunction. Brimmer said no.
“The governor has failed to show any error in the court’s ruling that plaintiffs showed a likelihood of success on the merits or any evidence that the governor will succeed on he merits of his appeal,” Brimmer, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, wrote in his ruling.
Polis’ appeal is before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s unclear how long the panel will take to review the case.
If the appellate court declines to reverse the preliminary injunction, it will remain in place until the RMGO lawsuit is resolved — which could take years.
It was already illegal under federal law for people under 21 to purchase handguns, though there’s an ongoing court challenge to that statute. Senate Bill 169 raised the minimum age to purchase rifles and shotguns in Colorado to 21 as well.
The measure was supposed to go into effect on Aug. 7 or 8. There was debate about the first day it could be enforced.
The new law also made it illegal to sell any gun to someone younger than 21.
Under the new law, it would be a Class 2 misdemeanor to buy a gun if you are younger than 21 or for a private dealer to sell a firearm to someone who is younger than 21. Licensed dealers who sell to someone younger than 21 could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The law provides exceptions for members of the military and law enforcement.
Senate Bill 169 was among four gun control measures Democrats passed at the Capitol this year and that Polis signed into law. The legislation represented the biggest rewrite of Colorado’s firearm statutes in at least a decade.