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A Colorado Ruling May Signal a Shift in How Courts View Gun Restrictions

A judges recent block of an assault-weapons ban in a Colorado county could possibly be an early on sign of a trend for local municipalities with similar laws.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Charlotte Sweeney granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Boulder Countys enforcement of a ban on assault weapons following a lawsuit was filed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a gun-rights advocacy group in Colorado. The ban, adopted on August 2 by the Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County, included the manufacturing and sale of AR-15 rifles.

Adam Winker, a constitutional-law professor and gun-policy expert at UCLA, says this ruling is significant as the constitutionality of assault-weapons bans may very well be among the next battlefields in the next Amendment. Discussing a recent Supreme Court case that expanded gun rights in NY, he explained that it didnt say anything explicit about assault-weapons bans. However the court did adopt a fresh test that may ensure it is harder for assault-weapons bans to survive judicial scrutiny.

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While these cases at first glance might not be a comparable things (the brand new York case was about handguns and self-defense and the Colorado one is approximately assault weapons), experts say that the Supreme Court ruling could impact other gun rulings aswell.

The court said that gun laws should be in keeping with the gun laws of the 1800s. So given the historical context, it appears totally possible that courts will strike down assault-weapons bans, Winkler says, though he also highlights that the courts have historically been split on assault-weapon bans.

In her ruling, Judge Sweeney cited the Supreme Court decision as grounds for the pause. The Supreme Court has ruled that folks have a constitutional to carry a handgun for self-defense beyond your home and New Yorks licensing regime for public-carry licenses impermissibly interfered with that right, the judge explained in her decision. With this admittedly limited record sufficient reason for a liberal analysis of the factor, the Court finds that Plaintiffs set up a substantial odds of success on the merits.

This is the second time within the last month or two a judge banned a Colorado city from enforcing an assault-weapons ban. In July a judge in Superior, Colo., issued a TRO avoiding the town from enforcing certain gun restrictions and in addition cited the brand new York case.

The Supreme Court has basically clarified that it really wants to see courts become more skeptical of gun laws, and do more to safeguard the next Amendment, Winkler says.

In reaction to the ruling in Boulder County, the town of Boulder said that temporary ban allows more legal coordination among neighboring jurisdictions. This decision by no means demonstrates too little resolve by Boulders City Council or administration. We believe these bans are both necessary and legal, city attorney Teresa Taylor Tate said in a statement.

In June, Boulder City Council passed six gun-control laws designed to reduce gun violence. This included banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and increasing this when someone could purchase a gun from 18 to 21. These measures, too, have already been challenged by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which includes filed five lawsuits in Colorado over gun regulations.

A DIFFERENT ONE DOWN, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners tweeted concerning the Boulder County decision.

The pause from the judge is defined to last 14 days while court proceedings round the lawsuit continue.

The final federal assault weapons ban was set up from 1994 to 2004 and contains never been successfully renewed. Today you can find only seven statesNew York, NJ, Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Californiaplus the District of Columbia which have laws banning assault weapons. Minnesota and Virginia both regulate but usually do not ban assault weapons.

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Some critics have questioned the potency of assault-weapons bans. During a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., come early july, a gunman completed a mass shooting, killing seven people and injuring a large number of others. Highland Park has already established an assault-weapons ban since 2013.

Its hard to learn just how effective assault-weapons bans are. The laws are pretty an easy task to skirt, Winkler says, adding that folks can just purchase a gun in another state, remove certain military characteristics by firmly taking away the bayonet lug or perhaps a folding buttstock, or work with a ghost gun in order that its not violating whatever rules of the ban come in place.

Still, some gun-policy experts visit a benefit in these bans at both local and national levels. Louis Klarevas, writer of Rampage Nation: Securing America From Mass Shootings, researched the 10-year amount of the assault-weapons ban and discovered that there was a substantial decrease in mass shootings.

Throughout a speech in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., on Tuesday, President Joe Biden expressed his goal of bringing back a federal ban on assault weapons. I did so it once before and Ill repeat, he said.

Write to Josiah Bates at josiah.bates@time.com.

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