Gun rights group challenges new Colorado ban on ghost guns

Second Amendment

A gun-rights group filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Monday, aiming to overturn a new state law that bans owning, buying, transporting, making or selling so-called ghost guns. 

Ghost guns are unserialized and untraceable firearms that are often bought online without a background check as part of a ghost gun kit, which allows anyone to build a weapon from the parts provided. The National Association for Gun Rights, along with its Colorado affiliate, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, and three Colorado residents, argues in the U.S. District Court for Colorado that the ghost gun law, Senate Bill 23-279, is unconstitutional and infringes on the rights of gun enthusiasts, collectors and hobbyists who create and own homemade firearms.

“This law is an outright assault on the constitutional rights of peaceable Coloradans. It’s not just an overreach; it’s a direct defiance to our Second Amendment freedoms,” Taylor Rhoades, executive director of RMGO, said. “We believe that this law, much like others that attempt to restrict gun rights, will not stand up under scrutiny, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in Bruen.”

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen from 2021, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that any gun control law must be consistent with the nation’s history and tradition of firearms regulation.

One of the Colorado law’s sponsors, state Sen. Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat, said that, based on the hours he spent researching and drafting the law, he’s confident the statute will pass constitutional scrutiny.

“It’s no surprise the RMGO filed this lawsuit,” Hansen said. “The group claims they are more extreme than the National Rifle Association. We’re interested in protecting the health and safety of Coloradoans. RMGO clearly isn’t.”

State House Rep. Junie Joseph, a Boulder Democrat who also sponsored the ban on ghost guns, said the law would save lives and promote the rule of law. Joseph said it was offensive to hear groups “twist and tout our legislation as unconstitutional.” 

“I have full faith that this challenge will be unsuccessful because of our state’s robust legal advocates, and beyond that, I believe SB-279 will stand on its own as a good piece of constitutional legislation that the court will uphold,” Joseph said.

Joseph said she had far more support for the ghost gun bill than the RMGO had against it. She cited polling that shows Coloradans overwhelmingly support stronger gun laws.

Rhodes shared an RMGO post on X, formerly Twitter, telling Joseph the organization “won’t back down!”

Joseph said she has no plans to back down, either.

“Neither do I compromise when it comes to our constitutional rights as American citizens. When I am not at the Capitol legislating, I am advocating for children and families within the court system, I am a staunch supporter and promoter of our community members’ constitutional rights as an officer of the court,” Joseph, an attorney, said. 

Ghost guns

According to Brady, a nonprofit that advocates for gun regulation and against gun violence, sales of ghost gun parts and kits have increased significantly in recent years. There are currently no federal restrictions on who can buy them or on how many gun parts they can purchase.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Washington and the District of Columbia have also taken action to regulate or ban ghost guns.

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