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Colorado lets cities pass gun laws after supermarket shooting

The memorial at the King Soopers on Table Mesa in Boulder, United States, March 24, 2021. Rachel Woolf for The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • After a supermarket shootout, Colorado repealed a law prohibiting cities from passing local gun laws.

  • Boulder is now hoping to enforce his 2018 assault weapons ban that a judge had already overturned.

  • Most cities in the United States are unable to pass local firearms laws due to state laws prohibiting the practice.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Months after ten people were killed in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colo., The state government took swift action.

Lawmakers have passed six gun laws since the March shooting, Gov. Jared Polis signed three on Saturday. Recently passed laws expand background checks for gun purchases and create a gun violence prevention office.

The third gives local jurisdictions control over gun rights by repealing an existing ban that prevented cities from passing their own gun laws and renewed interest in Boulder for an assault gun ban . Almost all states have similar laws, called pre-emption laws, which preclude local gun laws, according to the National Rifle Association.

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Despite the old ban, Boulder enacted its own local ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in 2018, although it has yet to be enforced. On March 12, a judge ruled that the ban violated Colorado state law, citing pre-emption law, and overturned it.

Just 10 days later, a gunman killed 10 people in a city supermarket using an AR-556, an AR-15-style semi-automatic pistol, which he had purchased a few days earlier. . The weapon would have been covered by the ban, according to the Denver Post, because it included weapons that could use external magazines. He bought the pistol in another town, although Boulder’s ban would have made it illegal for him to carry it in town.

Boulder is reviewing the ban again now that the state’s new bill allows cities to make their own gun laws. Mayor Sam Weaver told the Wall Street Journal he believed the new bill would overturn legal challenges to the assault weapons ban, effectively bringing it into effect. He also said the city will do whatever it takes to make the ban enforceable.

“In theory, if we didn’t have this law, you could buy an assault weapon and then cross the street and shoot a group of students,” Weaver told the Journal. “So we would like to put it in place to prevent rash actions with assault weapons in Boulder.”

Pre-emption laws gained traction in the 1980s after Democratic-led cities passed gun laws in states controlled by more conservative lawmakers, The Journal reported. The NRA and other gun rights advocates have strongly supported the pre-emption laws.

Polis had signed two more gun bills earlier this year following the supermarket shooting, including regulations on gun storage and requirements for reporting stolen or missing guns. Another bill that has been passed and awaits the governor’s signature aims to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

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