12/02/2013 02:42 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Colorado Sheriffs Cannot Sue State Over Gun Control Laws As Elected Officials: Judge


A federal judge in Denver dismissed part of the lawsuit dozens of Colorado sheriffs filed against the state in May arguing that the gun control laws passed this year were unconstitutional.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger granted much of the state's motion to dismiss the suit and said that the 55 Colorado sheriffs who were listed as plaintiffs had no legal standing in their official capacity.

"A political subdivision of a state may not sue its parent state under certain provisions of the United States Constitution," Krieger wrote in the ruling. "If individual sheriffs wish to protect individual rights or interests they may do so. In the Second Amended Complaint, however, the Sheriffs have confused their individual rights and interests with those of the county sheriff’s office."

The sheriffs, who represent the rural parts of Colorado's 64 counties, will have until Dec. 11 to rejoin the lawsuit in their individual capacities.

Krieger's ruling however does not stop the suit since there are 21 other plaintiffs -- including individuals and gun groups -- who do have legal standing, so the court still has to consider whether limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and requiring universal background checks in Colorado is constitutional.

“We are pleased that the court recognized that many of the plaintiffs had no standing to bring this case and that our interpretation of the law is proper," Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the state in the lawsuit, told The Associated Press.

The laws in question took effect on July 1 and were part of a group of gun control bills that were voted on in response to the mass shootings in an Aurora movie theater and Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. The laws also prompted the successful recalls of two Democratic state senators in September, and the resignation of a third last week.

Read U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger's ruling in full below:

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger Ruling by Andrea Rael