As part of the suite of gun control laws imposed on the citizens of Colorado in 2013, HB13-1224 was enacted, a law which prohibits standard capacity magazines in excess of 15 rounds. Of the five laws, this one is arguably the most onerous, least popular, most ineffective and indeed most unconstitutional of them. This year, Republican lawmakers have introduced HB 14-1151 and SB 14-100 to repeal this law.
There are many reasons why the law enacted through HB13-1224 should be repealed. They are:
- The law is ineffective. With the grandfathering clause, the lack of stamping or other means to identify when a magazine was manufactured, the ability for a person to purchase a magazine in a neighboring state or to manufacture their own, this law cannot possibly prevent anyone who really wants one from obtaining a magazine with a capacity in excess of 15 rounds.
- The law is unenforceable. For the same reasons cited above, the law is unenforceable, and in fact the highest elected law enforcement officers in our state have stated they will not enforce this law and have sued to overturn it. I think this alone is reason to repeal it. To my knowledge, not one person has been arrested or charged with a crime under this law.
- The impact on public safety is uncertain at best. Most crime shootings involve fewer than five shots fired. While a couple of recent mass shootings have involved magazines that are truly “high-capacity” (and in the case of the Aurora Theater, it jammed), some of the most notorious mass shootings (Columbine, Virginia Tech) involved magazines that contained fewer than 20 rounds. Indeed, the Columbine shooting took place while the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.
- Magazine capacity limits do not deter crime shooters or mass shooters. Sadly, HB 1229 did nothing to stop the Arapahoe High School shooter from murdering Claire Davis and taking his own life. Arbitrary magazine capacity limits did not stop the Aurora Theater shooter, the Navy Yard shooter or any other criminal maniac intent on causing murder and mayhem.
- What limiting magazine capacity can do is put lives at risk in a self-defense situation. When a legal gun owner is presented with the need to use deadly force in defense of his or her life, it may be necessary to fire many more than 15 rounds. It is my belief that concealed carry permit holders practice with their firearms as much or more than police officers do. But it is police officers who are held as the standard. The most popular duty weapon is the Glock 17 which has a standard magazine capacity of 17 rounds. Police officer target hit rates are well below 50% in the studies I’ve seen. It’s probably comparable for ordinary citizens. Depriving law abiding citizens of the means of self-defense is immoral and wrong.
- In the recently released Quinnipiac poll, the slight majority support for banning “high-capacity” magazines of 3% is close to the margin of error, so could really be called a tossup. In any event, our system of government is not a simple democracy. Other polls, including the one to be held on November 4, could very well show different results.
- The simple fact that magazines of up to 30 rounds are “in common use” as defined in District of Columbia v. Heller. There is a strong probability that this law is unconstitutional and will be found as such in the near future. As mentioned before, Colorado sheriffs believe so and have sued to prove it.
- Limiting the number of rounds a magazine can carry is arbitrary. What is the difference between the 15th round and the 16th (or 23rd) round?
- This law is punitive to law abiding, legal gun owners. As has been said a “million billion times” since this debate started, criminals don’t obey laws. That’s why they’re criminals.
For these reasons, I support the full repeal of HB13-1229.
By Richard D. Turnquist
February 7, 2014