By Duane Liptak
Lawmakers in Olympia are convinced they’ve found the solution to solving the crime problem. Reducing crime, they seem to agree, is just a matter of reducing the capacity of how many rounds of ammunition can go into a magazine. They just can’t seem to agree what that number should be.
The fallacy is this has been tried and it didn’t help. This proposed legislation doesn’t do anything to punish or deter criminals. Instead, it only affects the law-abiding. We know that public safety isn’t improved by reducing rights.
We’ve been down this path. Five years ago, we proudly called Colorado our home. Our state legislature focused their attention on the wrong issues, blaming our industry and magazine capacity instead of the criminals for their crimes.
We warned the lawmakers that shifting the blame would have dire consequences for the safety of Colorado. Despite overwhelming opposition from law-abiding Colorado citizens, the legislature passed and then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a magazine ban into law, very similar to the law being debated in Washington.
Our company left Colorado for Wyoming and Texas, where we knew our business wouldn’t be scapegoated, and where lawmakers are focused on real solutions. Two Colorado state lawmakers were recalled from their seats and another resigned in the aftermath of the bill being passed. Colorado lost $85 million in annual taxes and hundreds of loyal employees. Those tax dollars, and our rights, are welcomed in Wyoming and Texas. But, the real impact was on the law abiding who were now living under the new law.
Sadly, we were all too accurate in our predictions on the effect this would have on crime. With both the newly minted background check law and the magazine capacity limits in effect, while the law-abiding were denied their rights, crime grew and criminals grew even bolder. Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation reported last fall that violent crime had grown by 25 percent since 2013.
Citizens of the Evergreen State deserve better. They deserve the facts, straight from the FBI. More violent crimes are committed with clubs, knives and fists than with firearms. When criminals do use guns, they overwhelmingly use illegally-obtained handguns—which, by the way, are unaffected by well-meaning but ineffective background check laws. When they shoot those guns, they fire an average of 3.2-3.7 rounds, far below the arbitrary 10 or 15-round capacity limit being debated. Criminals, you see, can choose the time and place of their acts, and generally act in groups. Law abiding citizens defending their own lives are reacting to the actions of criminals, and potentially numerous attackers.
As another point of fact, the standard capacity magazines that Washington lawmakers want to ban were already banned once by the federal government, from 1994-2004, along with a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” The Centers for Disease Control studied it and found these measures had no impact on reducing crime. In fact, crime across the United States has fallen 17 percent since the ban expired.
Other communities are safer than Colorado because they are focusing on real solutions. Other states are submitting all disqualifying mental health and criminal records to the FBI, to maximize the effect of the existing federal background check laws that are already in place, and have been since 1993. They are partnering with programs like Project Childsafe® to ensure guns are responsibly stored when not in use–voluntarily. Through effective, FREE programs including the NRA “School Shield” program, they are making schools safe with real security measures instead of pretending that violent criminals are deterred by “gun free zone” signs. They are locking up criminals who would “straw purchase” or buy guns for those who can’t because they’re disqualified. These states are catching and locking up criminals who smash into gun stores and steal guns that are used in subsequent crimes or traffic in illegal guns stolen or imported from other sources. And, they are prosecuting and sentencing actual violent criminals instead of trying to disarm or disadvantage the law-abiding citizen.
When lawmakers shift the blame and focus on an object they don’t understand instead of the criminals who they must confront, the true victims are the voters. Don’t let the false promises that were sold to Coloradoans be peddled in Washington. Tell your state senator, representative and the governor Washingtonians’ want more than illusion of action. Washington deserves real solutions.
Duane Liptak is Executive Vice President of Magpul Industries Corporation, a manufacturer of firearm accessories.