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Colorado Firearms Rights vs. the 2nd Amendment

| Oct 6, 2012 | Firearms |

In Colorado, the Second Amendment is implicated in criminal cases like Menacing, C.R.S. 18-3-206, Prohibited Use of Weapons, 18-12-106, and Possession of a Weapon by Previous Offender, C.R.S. 18-12-108. Each of these crimes tugs at Constitutional rights to possess firearms vs. legitimate public protections from those exercising their rights in an irresponsible manner.

Menacing in Douglas and Jefferson County can be either a misdemeanor, or, when a weapon is involved, a felony. Generally, this crime involves a situation where a person says they were threatened by another with a gun. Possession of a firearm for defense of a person is just what our nation’s founders planned. Yet, when that possession is used to frighten or hurt another for personal gain, the Constitutionally protected possession is at odds with society’s need to protect others. We have tried to find a balance between these competing interests.

Prohibited use of Weapons in Denver and Arapahoe County usually arises where a person has a firearm on their person and has been drinking. While realizing legitimate Second Amendment rights, society also faces the reality that drunk people don’t make sound decisions. An interesting interplay among laws exists when a drunk person is using a weapon for self defense. Which law should prevail?

Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender arises in Adams and Weld County when a person who has a prior felony is in possession of a firearm. This law, found at C.R.S. 18-12-108, makes it a felony to possess a firearm after conviction for a prior felony. The difficulty arises when one looks at the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article II, Section 13, of the Colorado Constitution. These provisions do not mention any limitations on the right to possess a gun. I have seen a Colorado Supreme Court case which raises the possibility that the court would put the constitutional provisions over the state statute. In other words, they might invalidate C.R.S. 18-12-108, if someone were using a firearm in defense of themselves or another.

Firearms rights are very important to a large segment of the population. These law abiding citizens see guns as the last barrier to an out of control government and to lawbreakers trying to steal or kill. A call to 911 simply cannot guarantee one’s security. Many times, when seconds count, police are minutes away.

We support a generous application of Second Amendment rights to law abiding citizens. If you are contacted by police concerning the exercise of your firearms rights, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.