Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Hickenlooper: Amicus Brief Defending Colorado Law Prohibiting Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines

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Case Information: Rocky Mountain Gun Owners v. Hickenlooper, No. 2014-CA-002178, (Colo. Ct. App. Brief Filed June 16, 2015)

At Issue: In this state court case, plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of Colorado laws, enacted in 2013, that, among other things, generally prohibit large capacity ammunition magazines (defined as magazines which can hold more than 15 rounds). Plaintiffs argue that these laws violate the Colorado State Constitution’s right to bear arms provision, which states that “[t]he right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property . . . shall be called in question.” The district court upheld the laws, finding them to be a “reasonable” exercise of the state’s police power, specifically designed to protect public safety. The case is now on appeal with the Colorado State Court of Appeals.

The Law Center’s Brief: Our brief makes the argument that large capacity ammunition magazines are not “arms,” and therefore are not protected by the right to bear arms provision contained at Article II § 13 of the Colorado Constitution. The brief argues that large capacity ammunition magazines are non-essential accessories that are not required to operate the vast majority of firearms. Moreover, these magazines are disproportionately used in mass shootings and attacks on police officers and their use is associated with a large increase in the number of people injured and killed in a shooting.

Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

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The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions to release Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations. This collaborative report provides analysis of laws that help to empower community members to prevent gun violence in crisis situations.

Together, the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to develop solutions to keep guns out of dangerous hands through careful research and legislative drafting. The Law Center’s unparalleled legal expertise and the formidable grassroots network of Americans for Responsible Solutions will ensure that the best information available on smart gun policies reaches legislators nationwide.

Download a PDF copy of Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

Preventing the Next Mass Shooting Before It’s News

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown. Most Americans can easily list many of the high profile mass shootings that our nation has experienced. News reports after these events frequently mention that friends, family members, and acquaintances noted a change in the shooter’s behavior in the time leading up to the tragedy. While a variety of legislative proposals can help reduce mass shootings, one approach is to give community members ways to act, so that access to guns can be temporarily removed when a person is in crisis.

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Beyond Newtown Rally – December 14, 2013

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Few of us will ever forget December 14, 2012. It’s been nearly a year since the massacre of 20 innocent children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That unbearable tragedy sent ripples of outrage and grief throughout our country and around the world – and changed so much.

Please join us, alongside many other supporting organizations, as we gather in remembrance of the lives lost in Newtown one year ago as well as the 85 American lives lost to gunfire every day. This is also an opportunity for you to engage with a community of supporters, to help energize the efforts of the national movement, and for us all to look ahead as we demand real and lasting solutions to gun violence.

BEYOND NEWTOWN RALLY
Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 2pm
San Francisco’s UN Plaza

Speakers on Saturday:
U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier
California Senator Mark Leno
Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Mindy Finkelstein, Gun Violence Survivor
and more…

There is also a Youth March prior to the rally, which will begin at 12pm at the Gene Friend Recreation Center at 270 6th Street, and culminate at UN Plaza for the rally. A vigil will be held on Friday at 1 pm, on the steps of San Francisco City Hall.

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Amicus Brief in Challenge to Connecticut’s Assault Weapons Ban

Connecticut State Capitol Building

Case information: Shew, et al. v. Malloy, et al., No. 13-00739 (D. Conn., complaint filed May 22, 2013)

At Issue: Challenging the constitutionality of Connecticut’s Post-Newtown Assault Weapon and Large Capacity Magazine Ban This lawsuit, filed by a gun lobby group and a few individuals, challenges the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act (“the Act”), which was passed in direct response to the tragic elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  The shooter at Newtown used an assault weapon and multiple large capacity magazines to kill 26 people, including 20 children, in just five minutes.  The Act strengthened Connecticut’s ban on these dangerous weapons by–among other things–broadening the definition of an assault weapon to include guns with characteristics that enable the firing of hundreds of bullets per minute, aid in the commission of mass murders and assaults, or facilitate the weapon’s concealment.  The Act also banned the possession of large capacity ammunition magazines, which allow mass shooters to file dozens and dozens of bullets without pausing to reload.  This lawsuit makes the radical claim that the Second Amendment protects a “right” to own assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines and that Connecticut’s laws regulating these dangerous weapons (including the Act) are unconstitutional.

The Law Center’s Brief: Our brief, joined by Connecticut Against Gun ViolenceMoms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Cleveland School Remembers, argues that the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and other courts, does not protect a right to own weapons that are designed for a battlefield and have no connection to lawful self-defense in the home.  Indeed, every court to have considered challenges to laws banning assault weapons or high capacity magazines since the Supreme Court’s decisions in Heller and McDonald has upheld those laws, including the conservative D.C. Circuit.  The Law Center recently filed a similar brief in a case challenging New York’s assault weapon and large capacity ammunition magazine ban.

Download a copy of the brief here.

Letter to President Obama in the Wake of Newtown Massacre

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence applauds President Obama’s strong words in yesterday morning’s press conference announcing that a gun violence task force headed by Vice President Biden will lead to “concrete proposals no later than January.”

On Tuesday, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and 25 other state and national gun violence prevention organizations wrote to President Obama to thank him for speaking out in the wake of last week’s devastating shooting in Newtown, and to urge him to provide the leadership needed for the passage of sensible laws to prevent future tragedies.

Appointing a task force is a critical first step to curbing the flow of guns in to the hands of dangerous people. There are many steps the President can take today – including supporting many bills that are being introduced. Our coalition of gun violence prevention organizations offers support to the administration and Congress.

“We have been greatly encouraged by President Obama’s words since the horrific tragedy in Newtown,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center, which was formed in the wake of an assault weapon massacre at a law firm in San Francisco in 1993. “We appreciate the President’s past expression of support for laws banning assault weapons and requiring background checks on all gun buyers, and are hopeful that his commitment to use the power of this office to reduce gun violence will provide the catalyst needed for the adoption of those laws.”

Read and share our letter to President Obama below.

Email President Obama right now and thank him for his action: http://1.usa.gov/12AjM5o

He needs to know that we support him today.

Vigils for the Massacre in Newtown Erupt Across the Country


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Following the killing of 26 innocent children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, vigils for the fallen erupted across the country. Over 200 victims of gun violence and activists from the Law Center and other organizations across the country gathered at the White House on Friday to call on President Obama to take action to curb the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

Here is some coverage of the events:

More Determined Than Ever

Today in Washington D.C., we joined survivors of gun violence at a vigil at the White House. Together with our colleagues and many concerned citizens from across the country, we insisted that today IS the day that we as Americans stand up and say we’ve had enough.

Earlier today we asked you to stand with us by calling the White House to demand action from President Obama and our elected leaders. As the phone lines close for the weekend, please also express your outrage by signing this petition.

Sign it now and then pass it on. We need to show that the Americans are united in demanding a plan to end the bloodshed – now.

As we all wrestle with our feelings after this horrific event, we think Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have said it best, so we wanted to share this with you:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five year-olds.

President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

Our determination is also stronger than ever. We will continue to tirelessly promote laws that would prevent these kinds of tragedies. We need you, your family members, your friends, and neighbors to all join with us so we CAN enact smart gun laws that save lives.

Sign the petition. Pass it around. Join us in demanding that our leaders defend our safety.

Today Is the Day to Demand Change

We are devastated by news of the shooting today in Newtown, Connecticut and the unspeakable suffering that is occurring there. We cannot imagine what the families are going through now. We should all be appalled by this and should demand swift action.

The most fundamental duty of our government is to protect our communities, especially our innocent children. Despite mass shootings that have shattered families across the country this year, our leaders have repeatedly failed to do anything to prevent future bloodshed.

We cannot stand for this failure any longer. Our children’s lives depend on it.

Our leaders will keep ducking this issue until they hear from all of us. Call the White House now and demand that President Obama tell us what he plans to do about this epidemic.

Call now! 202-456-1414

President Obama needs to show leadership on this issue. While he spoke today about the need for meaningful action, he has yet to take any real steps toward making us safer. Given the 34 murders with guns that happen every day, the president’s failure to lead is unacceptable.

Call the White House now and demand a plan: 202-456-1414