Politics, Right To Arms

How Colorado's magazine ban Grinches stole Christmas

In 2013 Governor Hickenlooper signed a law banning the sale of many commonly used firearm magazines in Colorado. I spent a lot of time explaining to my friends why it was a terrible piece of legislation that would have a range of unintended consequences, with no public safety benefit. Two years later, my arguments a fading memory, I was abruptly reminded of exactly how misguided Colorado’s magazine ban really is.

First, it’s helpful to know a bit about me. I am a pretty normal middle-aged Colorado guy. I consult in the tech space, live in Boulder where I ride my bike a lot, trail run, ski and hit the climbing gym as often as I can. Every year, I look forward to the fall when I can escape to the mountains to hunt deer and elk – a fantastic tradition that I look forward to sharing with my two young children.

icon_op_edAs a hunter, firearm proficiency and safety is a top priority. Being excellent at both requires practice and careful habits that are best learned early. I decided 2016 would be the right time to begin teaching my children the fundamentals of the shooting sports. To do so, I set out to purchase a small-caliber .22 rifle that could be unwrapped on Christmas morning as a gift to Dad and his future hunters from Santa.

Like most other specialized items we purchase, I turned to the Internet to do my research and to find the best price on our new rifle. Unlike purchasing a book from Amazon, any firearm purchased online has to be delivered to a licensed dealer. The dealer receives, inspects, logs and transfers the firearm to the buyer only after conducting a background check in compliance with all state and federal laws.

A week after my purchase was complete and paid for I eagerly awaited a call from our gun club, which is also my licensed firearms dealer. Instead, I received a call from the online store notifying me that my order had been canceled and my money refunded. The seller stated they could not lawfully ship the firearm to Colorado because, like many small-caliber rifles, it is delivered from the manufacturer with a magazine that holds more rounds than Governor Hickenlooper and the Democrat-controlled legislature arbitrarily deemed necessary and lawful.

In the wake of the horrific Aurora theater attack many Colorado lawmakers sought opportunities to legislate away the threat of a repeat attack and to demonstrate their commitment to public safety. Others, driven by ideology, seized the eagerness among their peers to act and offered legislation to ban magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. On the surface, this sounded reasonable. The problem is, in practice it created significant barriers to law-abiding Coloradans trying to purchase any of a range of sporting and target-shooting firearms that have never been tied to criminal activity. To would-be criminals, the new magazine bans have zero deterrent effect. For proof, one need only look at the recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino where even more strict controls on firearms are law.

Instead of making the public safer, Colorado’s magazine capacity limits have had a bah-humbug effect on this family’s Christmas celebration. Worse yet, the legislation has made it materially harder to educate the next generation of sportsmen on the basics of firearms safety and for law-abiding citizens to pass along Colorado’s rich outdoor traditions. It’s time to fix what is really broken and unwind this ill-informed and poorly crafted legislation.

Rob O’Dea lives in Boulder, Colorado

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