Magpul Industries, an Erie, Colo.-based ammunition magazine and gun accessory manufacturer, says it is ready to move its operations out of the state if Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a bill that bans high-capacity magazines, which he is expected to do Wednesday.
Hickenlooper's spokesman Eric Brown confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that he would sign House Bill 1224, which bans ammunition magazines that carry more than 15 rounds or eight shotgun shells, as well as House Bill 1229, the so-called universal background check bill, which expands background checks for all gun sales and transfers in the state.
Both gun control measures would become effective on July 1 and are some of the strictest proposals in the nation as well as the first passed beyond the East Coast this year.
On Monday, Magpul wrote on their Facebook page that they will be forced to leave Colorado due to the "legal problems and uncertainties" of HB-1224 and because of "general principle:"
Apparently Gov Hickenlooper has announced that he will sign HB 1224 on Wednesday. We were asked for our reaction, and here is what we said:
We have said all along that based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave if the Governor signs this into law. 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. We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected. We have made some initial contacts and evaluated a list of new potential locations for additional manufacturing and the new company headquarters, and we will begin talks with various state representatives in earnest if the Governor indeed signs this legislation. Although we are agile for a company of our size, it is still a significant footprint, and we will perform this move in a manner that is best for the company and our employees.
It is disappointing to us that money and a social agenda from outside the state have apparently penetrated the American West to control our legislature and Governor, but we feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives, and the 2014 election to undo these wrongs against responsible Citizens.
Nearly 20,000 people have "Liked" the post on Facebook at the time of publication.
Magpul has not given a hard date when they would, in fact, move out of the state, but since the gun control debate began in the Colorado legislature earlier this year, the company founded in Colorado in 1999 which has distanced itself from politics in years past, has stood firm on its claim that it will leave.
"It's not so much, 'Oh, these people are making something that's going to cost Colorado lives.' We truly believe this bill will do nothing. It's a feel-good measure," Richard Fitzpatrick, founder and president of the company said to The Associated Press. "But these (workers) will be directly affected."
Colorado lawmakers who support the measure disagree with Fitzpatrick, saying that the bill will reduce gun violence. "This bill is an attempt to reduce the slaughter," Senate sponsor of the bill Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton) said, in early March when the measure passed in Senate Committee.
"There's no place in our community and in our neighborhoods for high-capacity magazines," Rep. Rhonda Fields, the House sponsor of the bill, said during the hearing today. "This bill is about public safety. This bill is about saving lives," Fields added.
Rep. Fields, whose son was murdered by a gunman in 2005, is sponsoring a number of bills this legislative session aimed at reducing gun violence in the state.
Magpul is one of the largest producers of ammo magazines and other gun accessories in the nation and employs hundreds of people around the state. If the company actually does leave the state, it will very likely not have a hard time finding a new home, The Denver Post reports that several states including South Carolina, Texas, Idaho and likely many more, have expressed interest in the company relocating to their respective states. Texas Gov. Rick Perry even sent a letter to Magpul which said, ""that fits the definition of business-friendly like Texas."
Recent polling from Project New America/Chris Keating and The Denver Post found that a majority of Coloradans' favor stricter gun control.
Fox31 first reported on a survey from PNA/Chris Keating which asked 905 Colorado voters, in general, if they favor stricter gun control -- 55 percent of Colorado voters said they favor of stricter gun control, while only 40 percent were opposed.
The same poll also asked Colorado voters about specific gun law proposals and the margin of support was wide for nearly all the measures in question, according to PNA/Chris Keating:
- 95 percent of voters agree that people with "serious mental health problems" should be prevented from owning a gun.
- 80 percent of voters agree that judges should be able to order someone who is "convicted of domestic violence or given a restraining order" to surrender their guns to the court.
- 80 percent of voters agree that all private gun sales should go through a licensed dealer and be subject to a background check.
- 65 percent of voters agree that guns should be banned on college and university campuses.
- 61 percent of voters agree that the sale and possession of semi-automatic guns and assault rifles should be banned.
- 61 percent of voters agree that the sale and possession of high-capacity ammunition clips, which allow some guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before reloading, should be banned.
The PNA/Keating poll echoes similar sentiments found in a recent Denver Post poll which found greater support for gun control measures than for gun-owner rights. According to The Denver Post, 60 percent of Colorado voters support proposals that would: ban assault-style rifles, limit high-capacity magazines and require universal background checks on all gun sales.
Although the Post poll found that 50 percent of those who responded say it is more important to protect gun ownership to 45 percent who say it is more important to control gun ownership, those percentages have shifted significantly since the last time the Post conducted the same poll in September. Last September, the breakdown was 56 percent saying it was more important to protect gun rights to only 39 percent saying it was more important to control guns.
However despite what appears to be strong popularity of Colorado's recent gun control bills, Gov. Hickenlooper's Facebook page has been continuously flooded with statements from disappointed and angry gun rights supporters who think the legislation has gone too far.