For the second time in two weeks, a federal court has denied Gov. Jared Polis’ request to overturn a judge’s ruling blocking a new Colorado law raising the age to purchase all firearms in the state to 21 from going into effect.
The law was temporarily blocked last month on Second Amendment grounds by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer in a lawsuit filed by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a hard-line gun rights group.
Polis asked Brimmer to lift his preliminary injunction pending an appeal filed with the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Brimmer refused, which prompted the governor to ask the 10th Circuit to lift the injunction.
Two judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Polis’ request Tuesday, finding that the governor hadn’t established that his appeal is likely to succeed, that Colorado is likely to suffer irreparable harm if Brimmer’s law isn’t lifted, and that a reversal of Brimmer’s ruling is in the public’s interest.
RMGO celebrated the ruling, with its executive director, Taylor Rhodes, saying the group is preparing for a long legal fight.
The governor’s office blasted the decision.
“People will remain very confused because of this injunction,” said Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Polis. “Since 1968, federal law has required Coloradans to be 21 years old to purchase a pistol, but a loophole allows kids under age 21 to legally buy a rifle instead. This new law approved by the legislature closes that loophole and Gov. Polis hopes that the courts agree with him that the law is fully consistent with the Second Amendment.”
The ruling means that the law could be blocked for weeks, months or possibly even years while the appeal and original lawsuit play out in court.
The law, Senate Bill 169, was passed by Democrats in the legislature this year and signed into law by Polis, who is also a Democrat.
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.
Senate Bill 169 was one of 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.