GUEST COLUMN: New gun laws are unconstitutional and dangerous

Gun Rights

Despite sniping from some who claim to be pro-gun, the Colorado State Shooting Association (CSSA) continues to defend the Second Amendment.

On Aug. 7, we filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jared Polis for violating the Constitution by signing into law two anti-gun bills. One increases the age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 years old. The other is a forced delay of three days before acquiring a firearm.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners — another Colorado gun-rights group — called CSSA “grifters” for filing this suit, a difficult accusation to launch against CSSA’s all-volunteer board. Its reasoning? It filed its lawsuits against these measures, therefore CSSA’s are unnecessary.

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But Rocky Mountain Gun Owners lost organizational standing on the age restriction bill and dropped its case against the waiting period bill, refiling it only after CSSA called it out.

Unlike Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, we are presenting the powerful argument that the waiting period lacks an exception for those who have an immediate need for self-defense, such as seven of CSSA’s members who are domestic abuse survivors.

More legal pushback means an increased likelihood these laws will be overturned. It appears that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is more concerned with being perceived as the only group fighting for the Second Amendment in Colorado than they are with seeing these laws defeated.

Our message to them: get over it. These measures are unconstitutional and dangerous. However many lawsuits it takes, they have to go.

In the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision, which was won by a fellow NRA state association, the court established a sensible framework for adjudicating gun laws. It consists of two main criteria. First is whether the law in question is constitutional based on the “Second Amendment’s plain text.” Next is to determine if the law is “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

At 18, Americans are adults who can vote and go to war. They are among “the people” referred to in the Second Amendment’s plain text. The age restriction fails to clear the first criterion.

The waiting period does, too. If you wish to exercise your Second Amendment rights and the government tells you to wait three days, they’re infringing those rights. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a right delayed is a right denied.”

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Gun laws like these two were not in place when the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, nor 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, making the Second Amendment enforceable against state governments. Both laws fail to satisfy the second criterion because they are inconsistent with our national tradition of firearm regulation.

Glaring constitutional issues aside, these measures will put innocent lives at risk.

One of the plaintiffs in CSSA’s lawsuit is a young adult under 21. Like many young people, he lives in a city that is experiencing a deadly crime wave. A neighboring house was attacked in a drive-by shooting.

This plaintiff is an upstanding citizen with overwhelming reason to desire a firearm for self-defense. Under this age restriction, he can’t have one. He can only hope he isn’t the next target for the vicious criminals terrorizing his community.

The three-day waiting period will have a similarly profound effect on the vulnerable, including victims of domestic violence, such as the seven CSSA members who are plaintiffs in our case.

Imagine a mother in an abusive relationship. She is ready to take back control of her life and flees with her children. She’s in desperate need to defend her family. She can’t wait three days. Because of this forced delay, she has no choice. Her family’s fate is in the hands of their abuser.

Here at CSSA, we file lawsuits against anti-gun bills to defend the rights of all Coloradans. That means we attempt to use the most effective arguments possible. We do not just drop a case after we fundraise for it, as Rocky Mountain Gun Owners did on the waiting period bill. We file cases to win.

Not one member of our board gets a single penny to be in this fight. Lawsuits cost money, but every penny raised by CSSA for these lawsuits is used to fight for Coloradans’ rights.

Daniel Fenlason is a school shooting survivor and the executive director of the Colorado State Shooting Association, the NRA’s state association. Learn more at

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