ERIE -- It was a high-profile announcement that generated a flurry of headlines across the state and the nation.
State Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, read from the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives a message from the CEO of Magpul Industries, the Erie-based weapons accessory maker, that his company would leave Colorado if the Legislature passed a measure banning the sale of magazines containing more than 15 rounds.
Saine gave that speech in February, the Legislature passed the magazine-limits bill in March, and Magpul announced in April that it had started making certain weapons accessories out of state. But on Thursday -- a full six months after the company made its much-ballyhooed break from the Centennial State -- the parking lot at Magpul's headquarters in Erie was filled with cars, and a receptionist greeted visitors in the front lobby.
The company's seeming inability to once and for all pull up stakes and exit Colorado has gone from a point of curiosity among gun enthusiasts, who loudly backed the company's decision half a year ago to move, to a source of annoyance that threatens to hurt Magpul's reputation and business.
On the company's Facebook page, some comments in the last few weeks have turned ugly as customers begin to question whether Magpul truly walks the walk when it comes to defending the 2nd Amendment or simply issues "empty threat(s)."
"Hmmm. I hope I am wrong, but I'm starting to feel dumb for buying a bunch of your stuff to support your company during your move and beyond," Michael Franklin, of Arizona, wrote last week. "What happened to the principles you were passionate about?"
Steve Allen, of North Carolina, also expressed his impatience with Magpul's lack of progress in leaving Colorado.
"Still waiting for the move. I'm a business owner -- I know how difficult a move is," he wrote. "You drew a line and the Colorado legislature crossed it. I sure hope your line means more than Obama's line in Syria."
Magpul says move is still on
Magpul said Thursday it still has every intention to fully relocate its operations from Colorado, but moving a company of 250 employees to multiple new locations in multiple states can't be done on the fly.
Duane Liptak, director of product management and marketing for Magpul, said the company has moved some of its capacities out of Colorado over the last few months but hasn't yet been able to finalize a relocation plan for its entire operation. Not only are the logistics of moving a challenge, Liptak said, but employees and their families have to be taken into consideration when it comes to locating a new base of operations.
"We have to work through the move with our employees before we make any announcements," he said. "It's a big move, and there's a lot going on."
Liptak said Magpul should be able to shed more light on the location of its new home by the end of the year, or at the latest by the time the Shot Show is held in Las Vegas, starting Jan. 14.
"Rest assured, the move is going to take place, but we have to work through it on our own time," he said.
Saine, who represents the district where Magpul is located, said she would be more than happy to see the company remain in Erie given the fact that it employs hundreds and pumps millions of dollars into the local economy. But Saine, who opposed the series of gun-control laws passed by her colleagues in March, she said she understands that the company had to make a stand.
"I'm sure they felt that was the only option, based on their principles," she said.
Saine has no doubts that Magpul will eventually vacate its complex in Erie but that moving a company of that size takes time.
Too late for some?
For a couple of loyal customers reached by the Camera on Thursday, just the lack of communication from Magpul about the move despite multiple customer inquiries has been enough to create doubts in their minds about the company's true intentions.
"In the beginning they would post comments and have rallies in support of the 2nd Amendment," said Steven Power, of Texas. "As time has gone on you have heard less and less from them on the move. With the lines of communication dead, it looks like a marketing ploy."
In fact, Magpul may have raised false hopes earlier this year when it announced on Facebook in April that it was ready to reveal information about its future plans but then put off that announcement in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, stating that the tragedy makes this "a poor time for that." Since then, Magpul has been circumspect about sharing anything with its customers and fans about its next move.
That has only led shooting enthusiasts like Ronny Johnson, of Texas, to lose any hope that Magpul intends to stick to its principles. He now calls himself a former customer.
"No need for the secrecy. If it's true, you are still hiding it six months later?" he told the Camera on Thursday. "They have nothing to hide at this point; they accomplished their goals with the (Colorado) Legislature. I do think they will see a loss of business. They have lost mine."
Power said he is still hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst.
"If this all turns out to be nothing but a way to sell guns and gun accessories, then I hope they go out of business," he said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/abuvthefold. ___
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