Hickenlooper backs magazine ban, as manufacturer threatens to leave Colorado

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DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters Thursday that he supports three of the four gun control proposals from House Democrats, which will be debated on the House floor on Friday.

In a roundtable discussion with print media at the Capitol, Hickenlooper said that he supports the proposals to ban high-capacity magazines and to force gun buyers to cover the cost of their own CBI background checks.

Until Thursday, he’d only indicated his support for the proposal requiring universal background checks on all gun purchases.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat with high statewide approval ratings and a rising national profile, told reporters he’s yet to decide whether he supports a proposed ban on concealed weapons on college campuses, the fourth measure up for debate Friday on the House floor.

The first bill scheduled, H.B. 1224, is the ban on high-capacity magazines, and perhaps the most controversial of the four.

In a lengthy hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers amended the legislation that had sought to ban magazines of 10 rounds or more to 15.

On Thursday, as Hickenlooper met with the Capitol press corps, his staff met with representatives of Magpul Industries, the Boulder County manufacturer of the very magazines set to be banned.

According to the company’s Facebook page, Magpul informed the governor’s chief legislative lobbyist, Christine Scanlan, of its plans to move to another state should the legislation become law.

“Message delivered: If House Bill 1224 passes and becomes law, regardless of exemptions or amendments, we will be forced to leave CO, along with our jobs and our tax dollars,” reads a post on the Magpul Facebook page.

Interestingly, Hickenlooper’s former chief lobbyist, R.D. Sewald, left the administration late last year to start his own lobbying firm and now represents Magpul.

The National Rifle Association’s President, David A. Keene, met with Hickenlooper and other legislative leaders during a visit to Denver last Thursday and expressed hope of finding “common ground.”

But, with Democrats controlling both legislative chambers at the Capitol, most of their gun control proposals are expected to pass.

Republicans bristled Thursday morning at the way Democrats cut short committee debate on some of the gun control measures in order to ensure they reach the House floor by Friday and pass out of the House as early as next Monday.

“I think the majority party is trying to rush all of these bills through while they have an opportunity, while the public emotions are running high for additional gun regulation,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, told reporters that “the public is with us.”

“There are not many issues that are in the high 70s and low 80s in terms of public support. Universal background checks have that kind of support. So I would ask the other side, why aren’t they on the side of the public?”

One reason Democrats may be moving quickly on their package of gun control measures: the wider political impact on the national gun control debate.

Colorado’s swift passage of legislation banning magazines or mandating universal background checks, coming in a politically moderate state, will no doubt help gun control proponents in Congress argue that there is real national momentum behind them that’s not just confined to traditionally liberal states like New York.