Right To Arms

Mag Ban: A range officer’s safety perspective

I have served as a volunteer range officer at a Colorado rifle range for over fifteen years. It is a passion of mine. A range officer is like an air traffic controller, and my first responsibility is safety. I also instruct and assist those who come out to shoot. I want everyone to have a safe and positive shooting experience. Under proposed HB13-1224, the magazine ban bill, I will not be able to continue to volunteer my services without becoming a criminal. Let me explain.

A few years ago, I noticed a husband trying to teach his wife to shoot a handgun. This was not a good situation. To the relief of both of them, I interceded. The husband was glad that I took over and he quickly faded to the background. I instructed his wife one step at a time how to hold the gun, aim, and shoot. By the way, women are a delight to teach because first they listen and then they often outshoot me. She was ecstatic when she placed all her shots in the bullseye. I could see her confidence swell. I felt terrific because I had taught another person how to be a safe and accurate shooter.

Under HB13-1224, my assistance as a range officer will make me a criminal.

HB13-1224 requires that the owner of an ammunition magazine be in “continual possession” of a magazine that can hold over 15 rounds of ammunition, or be “readily converted” to hold over 15 rounds. This law will apply to almost all magazines, including the magazine used by the husband and wife. In fact, under this proposed law, all three of us would have been criminals because the original owner of the magazine was no longer in “continuous possession” of the magazine and two other individuals had it in their possession during training. Three of us would have committed Class 2 Misdemeanors, even though they were training with the magazine designed for the gun.

Now you may be thinking, “But what are the chances of law enforcement seeing that happen?” Well, first, I don’t want to break the law. And law enforcement officers are also members of shooting ranges. There could have been an off duty police officer who could have seen me assisting the woman. By witnessing the exchange of the magazine, he would have witnessed criminal activity. We all could have been ticketed or arrested.

HB13-1224 will also affect range safety. When a magazine is inserted into a gun, I will not be able to tell if that magazine can hold more than 15 rounds. Therefore, as a range officer, I will always be at risk of criminal activity anytime I handle someone else’s firearm. If someone’s firearm malfunctions or if I need to unload a firearm, and it contains one of those magazines, I will not be able to legally handle the firearm to clear the malfunction or unload it. Do I keep the range safe, or do I avoid being a criminal? I will always be at risk of criminal activity to fulfill my duties to make the range safe for everyone. This is the logic of HB13-1224.

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