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Trial set to start for lawsuit over gun laws

Trial set to start for lawsuit over gun laws

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A two-week trial is set to start Monday during which a judge will hear arguments over Colorado's controversial gun laws.

A year ago, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed bills that limited the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, and required new background checks for firearms sold online and between private sellers.

Gun rights groups are suing to overturn those laws. A group of 55 sheriffs is backing them up. A federal judge previously dismissed the part of the lawsuit dozens of sheriffs filed after deciding the sheriffs could not be plaintiffs in the case.

The Colorado Attorney General's Office is representing the state.

The laws, which took effect July 1, were responses to mass shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater and Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is one of the 55 sheriffs backing the lawsuit.

"The laws are so vague that there are just a lot of unanswered questions, and that's a result of these bills being forced through the legislature and no one listening to the industry and law enforcement," said Maketa.

He said the laws aren't doing their job.

"We know that people are still engaging in criminal activity with guns. It didn't do what they promised it would do," said Maketa.

Former Senate President John Morse lost his seat in Senate District 11 in a recall election in September. He was in the hot seat for helping push these bills through the legislature. He said he would do it all over again because it was the right thing do for the state.

"The sheriffs have argued for a long time that we didn't listen to them. We heard them loud and clear," said Morse. "What they really mean is, I didn't do what they wanted done. What I did is what the other 85 percent wanted done."

He said this lawsuit is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

"I think they (the sheriffs) ought to have public safety as their No. 1 concern and very clearly they have their own political careers as number one concern," said Morse.

Maketa said he is optimistic the judge will rule against the laws.

"Our team of attorneys believe it's unconstitutional, we as sheriffs believe it's unconstitutional and a way to have that resolved is through the courts," said Maketa.

Morse is also optimistic.

"These lawsuits have been filed all over the country and I think there have been 8 of them so far and they have lost every single time," said Morse.

One thing Morse and Maketa do agree on is this case won't end with the judge's ruling. The case will likely go to an appellate court.  Morse thinks one of these gun control cases will ultimately end up in front of the Supreme Court.


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