DENVER – Gun-rights advocates who want to see a repeal of Colorado’s limits on the size of ammunition magazines realize their chances are slim when they go before Democrat-controlled committees next week.
But Republican Rep. Chris Holbert, who is sponsoring one repeal measure, said the goal is to give people an opportunity to have their say – something that gun-rights supporters insist didn’t happen last year when the laws were passed. Despite dozens of hours of committee testimony on a package of gun-control legislation, there were still many who had signed up to testify who didn’t get a chance to do so.
One of the more contentious proposals heard restricted the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. The proposal became law July 1.
“I’m hearing from the supporters of the repeal that they understand ... how unlikely it is that this bill would pass,” Holbert said. “But it does give them the opportunity to participate in the process.”
The complaint about not getting a chance to testify was one reason behind the eventual recall of two Democratic senators in September, Holbert said.
Holbert’s repeal attempt is scheduled to be heard by a House committee Monday, and a separate but identical proposal in the Senate is expected to have a committee hearing there Wednesday.
The magazine restrictions were among a handful of gun-related laws that Democrats passed in the aftermath of mass shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater and Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. One of those laws expanded background checks to private and online firearm sales.
A Republican attempt to undo that law has already failed.
Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, who sponsored the magazine limits and the expansion of background checks, said she believes Colorado residents support the measures, and that they’ll come out in big numbers to testify against repeal efforts. James Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 at an Aurora movie theater in July 2012. His attorneys have acknowledged he was the shooter but said he was “in the throes of a psychotic episode.”
Fields said she knows restricting the size of magazines won’t prevent all violence. But she said that the intent is to limit the damage mass shooters can do in a school or a mall.
“It’s just to give people an opportunity to save lives if someone decides to go into a venue like that,” she said.
Holbert and other Republicans are skeptical of the law’s effectiveness, and they said they hope to bring public awareness to what the legislation does.
“When we distill it down, it really is nothing more than limiting access for law-abiding citizens to metal and plastic boxes that have springs inside,” he said.