Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed three firearm-related bills on Wednesday, including restrictions that would limit magazine capacity, require checks on private sales, and tack on background check fees. The signing marks the culmination of a controversial push for gun control in the state.
Colorado’s frontier history and love of gun culture made it an unlikely site for gun restrictions to take root, even as similar proposals surfaced elsewhere in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. Both supporters and opponents of gun control across the nation watched the struggle in Colorado closely; the Centennial State has become a testing ground for future legislation in moderate states.
According to the Associated Press, Governor Hickenlooper was greeted by applause from a large crowd during the signing. In attendance were lawmakers who sponsored the bills and victims of the Aurora and Connecticut mass shootings.
“I am happy the governor is signing common-sense legislation that reduces gun violence in our communities by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic violence offenders and the seriously mentally ill,” said Democratic Representative Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora).
The reaction from gun owners and a majority of Colorado Republicans have been overwhelmingly negative. A number of firearm product manufacturers and law enforcement also oppose the gun bills, and showed up at the Capitol to testify against them not too long ago. The Denver Post reports that Colorado Senate Republicans have draped a New York flag over the door to the minority office in protest. New York enacted arguably the nation’s strictest gun control laws earlier this year and remains a lightning rod for debate. Politicians that oppose the signing vowed that there will be consequences for the lawmakers who sponsored the bills come election time.
Opponents argue that these bills will do nothing to lower crime, but instead infringe on Second Amendment rights. Some also worry that the wording in the high capacity magazine ban (HB 1224) will eventually make all lowered-capacity magazines illegal due to “readily convertible” parts.
Magazine and gun accessory manufacturer Magpul had previously announced that it will uproot from its Colorado location should the magazine ban be passed. On the eve of the signing, the company stood by its promise with a release on its facebook page that said, “[Should HB 1224 be signed] we will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first. We expect the first PMAGs to be made outside CO within 30 days of the signing, with the rest to follow in phases.”
Magpul has not yet finalized all the details for its move and is now considering potential sites for a future company headquarters. At the time of this article, the facebook post had garnered over 22,000 likes and 6,000 comments.
Governor Hickenlooper’s office has been transformed into a hive of activity over the polarizing gun bills. In the meantime, Hickenlooper’s popularity is rising rapidly among those who support gun control.
File image courtesy Office of Governor John Hickenlooper