“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” Those were the words of 19th century British philosopher John Stuart Mill, and they ring true in light of the battle over Second Amendment protected rights currently being waged in the city of Boulder, Colorado.
And in this instance, those words ring true in more than one way.
First, the right to self-defense is important to millions of law-abiding citizens, who want to be able to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from “bad men.”
Take the example of a 25-year-old Chicago woman who, in January, was attacked by a 19-year-old man who approached her near a bus stop at night in what was known to be a dangerous neighborhood. What the attacker didn’t realize is that the woman he chose to attack had a concealed carry permit. As The Daily Caller reported, surveillance video from across the street shows the man attacking the woman, leading to a struggle that ended when she pulled out her firearm and shot the assailant in the neck, likely saving her own life. Her attacker did not survive.
As the story above shows, sometimes the “good man” who stands up and does something is, in fact, a “good woman.”
The right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense is protected by the Constitution. But it’s more than an abstract legal issue. It is, for many like that Chicago woman, a matter of life and death.
Mountain States Legal Foundation is committed to upholding the rights protected by the Second Amendment. And we are currently engaged in a very important fight on this issue in the case Caldara v. City of Boulder.
The case arose after the City of Boulder enacted an array of unconstitutional firearm and magazine regulations beginning in May of 2018.
Boulder city council members voted unanimously to ban some of the most commonly owned firearms and magazines in the United States. Council members also raised the age of legal gun ownership in the city from 18 to 21.
It is hard to believe that you can join the military and fight for your country at the age of 18, yet the city of Boulder wants to make you a criminal for owning a firearm at that same age.
We were hopeful that the federal court would uphold the constitutional rights of the people of Boulder. But last September, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado refrained from vindicating the constitutionally protected rights of Boulder residents. Instead, the court deferred to the State of Colorado court system to determine whether the city had authority to enact its new regulations.
But we didn’t let that setback stop us. On behalf of our clients—individuals, a non-profit organization, and a firearm retailer—Mountain States Legal Foundation asked the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow the case to proceed in federal court on the merits of its Second Amendment challenge, in order to vindicate the rights of our clients and all Boulder residents.
In the past, the Supreme Court has acknowledged that fundamental rights, such as those protected by the Second Amendment, are too important to allow for any judicial delay. But delay was made inevitable when the lower court deferred to the state of Colorado in order to resolve a state law question while leaving the constitutional and federal violations unaddressed.
This is the second sense in which John Stuart Mill’s famous quote applies to this case: Just as good men must not “look on and do nothing,” the federal courts must not “look on and do nothing.” They must not let the Boulder City Council run roughshod over the law-abiding citizens with their extreme anti-Second Amendment agenda.
As Cody Wisniewski, our lead attorney on the case, put it, “The federal court cannot stand on the sideline while the rights of Boulder residents are being violated. We are determined uphold our clients’ rights to self-defense, as guaranteed by the Constitution.”