A few thousand Coloradans ushered in their upcoming Independence Day celebrations by bidding farewell to one of their fundamental rights — to buy, own and give away ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds — and vowing to take back control of a state government that they say represents liberal East Coast interests over their own.
Attendees of the nonprofit group Free Colorado’s Freedom Festival stocked up on 30-round Magpul magazines Saturday ahead of a statewide ban on them that goes into effect on Monday, with 1,500 given away for free on a first-come first-served basis. Held on an outdoor rugby pitch in the town of Glendale — which is adjacent to Denver, where magazines holding more than 20 rounds are already banned — the festival featured live music, food, beer and more than a few open-carry holstered pistols.
While hundreds lined up to buy magazines and other merchandise, a slate of impassioned state and national conservative speakers provided the fist-pumping highlights, including one county sheriff who vowed not to enforce the new law.
“Since they’re not enforceable, I will not enforce them,” said Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, one of 55 county sheriffs suing the state to have the magazine capacity limit overturned.
“I’m not going to go after the single mom who’s living with herself with her children who needs more than 15 rounds to protect her children,” he told the enthusiastic crowd. “These laws will do nothing to enhance public safety.”
Grievances against Colorado’s Democratic-controlled state government got a full airing Saturday, with one speaker after another encouraging recall attempts against Democratic state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron and promising to replace Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in the 2014 election.
Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy drove home the point against Hickenlooper by asking how many in attendance had called Hickenlooper to protest the state’s new gun laws, then following up to ask how many had actually gotten through to the governor.
To a chorus of boos, he noted that Hickenlooper took calls from New York Gov. Michael Bloomberg, who runs an organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns and who is a driving force behind gun control efforts nationally.
Other speakers invoked Bloomberg’s name, including St. Louis, Mo.-based conservative commenter Dana Loesch, who arrived in dramatic fashion on a helicopter carrying the free 30-round magazines — which were not, as the Denver Post reported earlier in the day, “dropped from the air onto the crowd.”
Loesch was unquestionably the most passionate speaker, practically screaming at times that a ban on high-capacity magazines was the first step in disarming citizens.
“They’re coming for your rights via incrementalism,” she said. “It’s disarmament in increments.”
“This state has been solid red for 60 years and in two elections, progressives came in and turned your state blue,” she said, urging conservative Coloradans to take back their state government.
“They are not the elite, they are the elect,” she said. “They can be unelected and recalled.… You think this blueprint is going to work in Colorado, [but] we’re going to fight back.”
“There is no mercy, there is no quarter,” she said. “Go get some magazines.”
Coloradans who own magazines that hold more than 15 rounds before July 1 can keep them, but not sell them, give them away or buy more.
The sheriffs’ lawsuit, which also seeks to repeal a law requiring universal background checks for all gun transfers, is scheduled for a hearing on July 10, at which plaintiffs seek a temporary injunction against the law until the suit is concluded.
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