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A pro-gun rally in Boulder, Colorado, in 2018, when the city of Boulder was considering banning the sale and possession of assault weapons. Photo: Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images

A judge in Colorado overturned Boulder's assault weapons ban 10 days before a gunman opened fire in a grocery store in the city and killed 10 people.

Why it matters: Monday's mass shooting suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, bought an AR-556 semiautomatic pistol on March 16 — four days after Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman ruled a 2003 state law invalidated the city's ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines (LCMs).

For the record: Assault weapons are still available for purchase elsewhere in Colorado, and even with a ban in Boulder, it's possible such firearms could still be brought into the city.

  • The case highlights the patchwork of inconsistent laws on firearms that exists across Colorado and the U.S. — and Hartman noted the state law was designed to avoid this.

Details: "The Court finds that the need for statewide uniformity favors the state's interest in regulating assault weapons and LCMs," Hartman said in his judgment.

  • "Statewide uniformity in regulations prohibiting the possession and transfer of assault weapons and LCMs aligns with the legislature's declared interest in protecting citizen's fundamental right to bear arm and consistent treatment under criminal law."
  • The constitutionality of the Boulder ban is being challenged in federal court.

Of note: While Boulder outlawed the firearms in 2018, Denver's assault weapons ban was allowed to stand in 2006 in part because it already existed before the state law was introduced.

  • The law was left in place after the State Supreme Court was tied 3-3 in the ruling, with one recusal, the New York Times notes.

What to watch: "If the case reaches the Colorado Supreme Court, justices there could for the first time issue a statewide ruling on whether local governments can pass more restrictive gun laws than those in state statute," the Denver Post reported last Thursday.

  • Legal experts noted to the news outlet that lawyers not only look at the facts of a case when deciding whether to take it to the highest court, "they also look at the timing and the political climate."
  • On Tuesday, President Biden called on Congress to pass gun control legislation — including bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Go deeper

Drought pushes 2 major U.S. lakes to historic lows

Kayakers at a boat launch ramp Page, Arizona, on July 3, which was made unusable by record low water levels at Lake Powell as the drought continues to worsen near. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two significant U.S. lakes, one of which is a major reservoir, are experiencing historic lows amid a drought that scientists have linked to climate change.

What's happening: Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., has fallen 3,554 feet in elevation, leaving the crucial reservoir on the Colorado River, at 33% capacity — the lowest since it was filled over half a century ago, new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data shows.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

North and South Korea restart hotline and pledge to improve ties

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2018. Photo: Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

North and South Korea's leaders have pledged to improve relations and resume previously suspended communication channels between the two countries.

Why it matters: The resumption of the hotline on Tuesday comes despite stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang on the denuclearization of North Korea, which broke down after a second summit between then-President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal in 2019.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Teen swimmer Lydia Jacoby wins 1st U.S. women's Olympic gold in Tokyo

Lydia Jacoby of Team USA wins gold in the women's 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Games. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Team USA's 17-year-old swimmer Lydia Jacoby has won the Olympic gold medal in the women's 100-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Games, completing the race with a time of 1:04.95.

Of note: The Alaskan beat defending Olympic champion and fellow American Lilly King, who won bronze. Tatjana Shoenmaker from South Africa took home the silver medal.

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