As expected, Colorado Democrats killed a bill that would have repealed a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, despite testimony that the law is unenforceable and leaves law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage to criminals who would ignore it anyway.
Lawmakers heard hours of testimony from those on both sides of the debate before defeating it in committee on a 7-4 party line vote.
Although the gun bills created the most stir during last year’s contentious legislative session, the arguments were less heated this year, even though they plowed much of the same ground. Bill sponsor, Republican state Rep. Chris Holbert, said before the hearing that the bill had little chance of passing beyond the Democratic-controlled committee, but that it was important for those who weren’t heard during last year’s discussion to have their voices heard.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke told lawmakers that he’s holding to his promise not to enforce the ban on larger capacity magazines.
“I have not seen any evidence that this has been an effective law at all,” he said.
Cooke revived an earlier argument against the new law, which contains language outlawing any magazine that can be “readily converted” to hold more than 15 rounds, noting that practically all magazines can be fitted with adapters allowing them to be loaded with extra bullets.
Attorney General John Suthers has issued written guidance specifying that the law won’t be enforced for such magazines, as long as they haven’t already been converted for higher capacity. But Cooke said “the technical guidance isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” because it can be changed by future attorneys general.
As a result, the law turns “all gun owners into law breakers,” he said.
The committee heard from many people who’ve become familiar advocates on both sides of the gun control issue, including family members of people killed in recent mass shootings as well as those who worked to recall former Democratic state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron over their support of the new law.
Democratic Rep. Mike Foote said that the law would be more effective if sheriffs like Cooke would try to enforce it.