Two of Colorado's three Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, along with Weld County and a Denver-based think tank, are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a New York law regulating the ability to carry a concealed firearm outside of the home.
The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, will weigh whether the state's rejection of concealed-carry applications pursuant to a law requiring applicants to show "proper cause" is a violation of the Second Amendment.
In a legal brief filed on July 19 in support of the constitutional challenge, U.S. Reps. Doug Lamborn and Lauren Boebert were among the 176 GOP House members claiming that their constituents "are now in danger of criminal prosecution should they attempt to exercise their inalienable right to bear arms in the State of New York."
Boebert has made guns integral to her image as a public figure. Her restaurant, Shooter's Grill in Rifle, features servers who wear holstered weapons. The District of Columbia's police department granted her a concealed carry permit this year after she recorded a video of herself pledging to carry her gun around the city. Boebert also refused to allow a search of her bag at metal detectors installed in the Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection, tweeting that she was allowed to carry her weapon.
The Supreme Court in April granted the appeal out of New York. A federal circuit court last year upheld the state's 1911 "Sullivan Law," and New York's attorney general told the Supreme Court that there was no proof submitted that the law constituted a de facto ban on firearm possession outside of the home. People with an actual need to carry a weapon for self-defense, the state noted, would satisfy the proper cause requirement.
However, the House Republicans countered that such a regulation "smacks of elitism" by transforming the right of firearm ownership into a "special privilege." They also alleged the Sullivan Law originally was used as a tool to exclude immigrants from owning firearms.
Gun safety advocates have called the stakes of the lawsuit high. “Gun violence has only worsened during the pandemic, and a ruling that opened the door to weakening our gun laws could make it even harder for cities and states to grapple with this public health crisis," said Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law.
In a separate brief also filed this week, Weld County and its sheriff, Steve Reams, along with the libertarian Independence Institute in Denver argued there is a long legal tradition of allowing the public carry of weapons.
"[B]oth the Founders and the founding citizenry at large voluntarily carried arms routinely for defense and sport," the brief described, listing John Adams, Patrick Henry and explorer Meriwether Lewis as individuals who took guns for hunting.
Weld County in May reaffirmed its label as a "Second Amendment Sanctuary," which pledged the jurisdiction's opposition to gun safety regulations that restrict the right to keep or bear arms. The county also indicated that it would support Reams "in the exercise of his sound discretion to not enforce against any citizen an unconstitutional firearms law."
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who represents Weld County, was not a signatory to the House GOP's brief. A spokesperson for Buck did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.