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Colorado House Passes Gun Control Bills in Close Vote, Magpul Promises to Leave

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A group of four gun control bills passed in the Colorado State House on Monday by very close votes. According to the Denver Post, HB 1228 passed by just one vote at 33-32. The bill would cost gun buyers an estimated $5-$12 for every state background check. Another bill, HB1224, also passed in the house at 34-32.  This bill restricts the maximum capacity of firearm magazines to 15 rounds, a move that is highly opposed by Colorado gun rights advocates and parts manufacturers such as Magpul.

Magpul had previously stated that if HB 1224 passes, the company will be moving out of state.

“We’ve already got plans in place to get PMAG manufacturing moved rapidly, and the rest of the company will follow,” says a post by Magpul on their Facebook wall. “We will make sure to at least have a small remain-behind operation through the 2014 elections so that we can remind folks why we are gone.”

The bills are:

  • House Bill 1224: Magazines limited to 15 rounds
  • House Bill 1226: Banning concealed weapons on campuses
  • House Bill 1228: Colorado residents will have to pay a fee for background checks
  • House Bill 1229: “Universal background checks”

The next move for the bills is to the senate, and then on to Governor John Hickenlooper for his signature. Many state politicians oppose the bills as well, stating that Colorado has a proud tradition of gun ownership. Others are skeptical of claims that the bills will help reduce crime.

“This bill has absolutely nothing, zero, to do with public safety,” said Representative Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland). “This bill is taking advantage of a tragedy that’s out there to demonize law-abiding citizens who are exercising their Second Amendment rights and using it as a way to generate $4 million to $5 million in increased taxes on these people.”

Proponents of the new bills argue that the proposed laws will make both help keep guns out of the wrong hands and hinder potential killers. However, this move may prompt gun makers to leave the state for more receptive lodgings.

Below is a press release from Magpul Industries regarding the situation:

Magpul Industries Announces It Will Leave Colorado if Gun Bill Passes

Move would Cost State 600 Jobs, $85 Million

Denver, Colorado – February 15th, 2013 – Magpul Industries, an Erie, Colorado, based manufacturer of firearms accessories, announced today that it will be forced to leave the state if House Bill 1224, which would ban standard capacity magazines, becomes law. The announcement was made to Governor Hickenlooper, state legislators, members of the media, and in a full-page advertisement to appear in the Denver Post on Sunday.

Richard Fitzpatrick, Founder, President, and CEO of Magpul Industries, said that regardless of any amendments that may be worked into the bill, he will no longer be able to continue to do business in Colorado if his core product is made illegal.

“Our company could not, in good conscience, continue to manufacture our products in a state where law-abiding citizens are prohibited from purchasing and owning them. ” Fitzpatrick said. “The passage of this bill will do nothing to enhance public safety, but will force us to immediately begin taking our business to another state.”

A proponent of the bill argued that with the amendment language, the choice to stay or leave was up to Magpul. Fitzpatrick responded, “Our relationship with our customers across the country would be severely damaged if this bill passes and we stay. We’ve already heard word of potential boycotts if that happens. They (legislators) really need to understand that our customer base is as passionate about freedoms as we are, and staying here if this bill passes would cripple the company. Make no doubt about it…we have no choice, and would be forced to leave in order to save the business.”

Magpul cited the example of the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show, which was canceled earlier this year after the organizers announced that it would not permit a popular category of firearm, like the ones Magpul makes accessories for, in the show. Public outcry from the customer base forced exhibitors to withdraw from participation, causing the cancellation of the show, and an estimated loss of $70 million of show revenue for hotels, restaurants, merchants, and other businesses in Pennsylvania, where the show was to be held.

Magpul Industries directly employs 200 people, supports another 400 supply-chain jobs, and contributes over $85 million annually to Colorado’s economy. Doug Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Magpul, says that it is a difficult position to be in. “We could choose to stay in a state that wants our jobs and revenue, but not our products, and lose half the jobs we are fighting to save, or potentially the entire business, when our customers stop buying. Or, we can take the company and those 600 jobs out of Colorado to continue our growth and the growth of American manufacturing in a state that shares our values. This is not really a choice. It’s an unfortunate and inevitable result of the actions of the Legislature if this bill passes.”

Magpul was started over a decade ago by Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. Marine. It has become one of Colorado’s fastest growing businesses, successfully marketing its products to American and allied military forces, police departments, sporting goods stores, and thousands of responsible private citizens. Fitzpatrick says that the rich western culture and strong values of individual freedom and responsibility, traditionally found in Colorado, were one of the reasons the company chose to remain in the state.

“It is heartbreaking to me, my employees, and their families, to think that we will be forced to leave,” Fitzpatrick said. “But if HB13-1224 passes, we will simply have no choice.”

Image screenshot of video on The Colorado Channel , slider image of Colorado State Capitol by Chris Gonzales and located on the Wikimedia Commons

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