Colorado Springs

Fact Check: Colorado's Gun Magazine Ban

Fact Check: High Capacity Magazine Ban

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. - While airing a KRDO Newschannel 13 investigation of a 2013 state law requiring background checks on all private sales of firearms, many also questioned the effectiveness of another 2013 law banning magazines that carry more than 15 rounds.

A separate investigation revealed a similar story, with very few people arrested for breaking what many believe is a difficult law to enforce.

Just like the background check law, the ban on high capacity magazines, signed in March of 2013, was prompted by two mass shootings, one at the Century Theater in Aurura, and one at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Both tragedies involved shooters using weapons with magazines that hold up to 30 rounds.

Jeff Lepp, owner and CEO of Specialty Sports and Supply in Colorado Springs, said most modern rifles are made to hold up to 30 rounds, and many handguns have standard magazines that exceed the limit as well.

"Most handguns don't go over 20, but an awful lot of them are 16, 17, 18 rounds," he said.

The 2013 ban forced Lepp, whose shop is the largest independent dealer west of the Mississippi River, to take those high capacity magazines off the shelves immediately.

However, Lepp says that didn't stop people from buying them elsewhere.

"People will go visit their families in Texas or Ohio or whatever, they often times bring home souvenirs, in the form of magazines that may be over 15 rounds, so it's not like people have stopped getting those magazines," he said.

Lepp says the ban hasn't significantly hurt sales, but has forced him to change the selection of firearms he can offer in order to comply with the law.

KRDO Newschannel 13 investigated how many people have been arrested for not complying, and just like the background check law, the total number is very small because of the difficulty to actively enforce.

Aside from the Denver metro area, only 40 people across the state have been charged with violating the ban since it took effect in mid-2013, and in all the cases researched, the magazine violation was simply an add-on charge.

In Pueblo, three men were charged with the violation after they were pulled over for speeding and police found a rifle in the car with an illegal magazine.

In one Lakewood case, police discovered an illegal magazine in a similar way, during a traffic stop.

In another, Lakewood Police were arresting a wanted female when officers found a man with a firearm and high capacity magazine and charged him with the offense.

In Fountain, a disturbance brought officers to a home where at least one firearm with an illegal magazine was found, leading to charges against the two men involved.

Republicans claim Democrats misfired when passing the law.

"What we have done is make criminals out of law-abiding citizens.  And quite frankly, the criminals still get whatever magazines they want," explains Republican State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling.

Sonnenberg is once again pushing a 2017 Senate bill to repeal the ban, but with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and overnor's office, the repeal of any gun control laws is highly unlikely.

However, the biggest impact of the bill may not be political or criminal, but economic.

Following its passage, gun magazine manufacturer Magpul claimed the law forced it to relocate a new manufacturing center to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

According to State Senator Vicki Marble of Fort Collins, where Magpul was previously located, the company's relocation cost Colorado up to 600 jobs and $85 million in tax revenue.

Lepp says Colorado's reputation as a non-gun friendly state will likely prevent other companies from expanding here as well.

"Any current manufacturer would never move to this state.  There's no economic benefit.  Legally, it's a risky state to move to.  You don't know what's going to happen."

"Even myself, if I was going to build a manufacturing facility, this is one of the last states I would consider," he added.

Technically, SB 7 to repeal the magazine ban was still active as of Thursday night, but on Wednesday, a companion bill in the House was defeated in a committee, foretelling the demise of the repeal and sealing the deal that the ban will remain in place.

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