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Hickenlooper unable to join Gardner on Magpul tour Thursday

A worker assembles magazines inside the Magpul factory in Erie, Colo.

A worker assembles magazines inside the Magpul factory in Erie, Colo.

DENVER — Early Thursday morning, GOP Congressman Cory Gardner toured Magpul Industries, the Erie manufacturer of high-capacity magazines that’s threatening to leave Colorado should legislation banning magazines of more than 15 rounds become law.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who Gardner’s office invited on the tour Wednesday, was out of the state and unable to come along.

Magpul, which employes 400 people, is a $400 million business that primarily manufactures accessories for the AR-15 and M-16 assault rifles for private use and defense contracts.

House Bill 1224, the ban on magazines of more than 15 rounds, passed out of the House on Monday with an amendment specifically for Magpul that will enable ammunition manufacturers to continue making high-capacity magazines in Colorado for sale in other states.

On Twitter, Gardner announced that he’d invited Hickenlooper on a tour “so we can learn about the unintended consequences of gun control leg[islation].”

Hickenlooper told reporters last week that he supports the high-capacity magazine ban; but, during a panel discussion about gun restrictions Tuesday night, the governor appeared to waffle on the matter.

“We haven’t taken a position on that bill yet,” Hickenlooper said. “But I from time to time have said contradictory things on it.

“It’s a tough issue: I mean, how many lives do you save, and how real is the inconvenience to the people who want to have a larger capacity magazine and feel it’s essential for defending their house?”

Hickenlooper’s spokesman Eric Brown told FOX31 Denver Wednesday afternoon that he was unaware of any official invitation being extended from Gardner.

Gardner’s spokeswoman, Rachel George, told FOX31 Denver Thursday morning that their district director had spoken with Alan Salazar, Hickenlooper’s Chief Strategy Officer, on Wednesday before sending out a press release announcing the tour, which was planned at the last minute on Wednesday.

Hickenlooper’s former legislative lobbyist, R.D. Sewald, who left the administration last year to start his own private lobbying firm, now represents Magpul.

With the legislation likely to pass the Democrat-controlled state Senate, Magpul’s only chance to prevent it from becoming law appears to be a veto from the governor.

Already, Republican politicians in other states, including South Carolina and Texas, are appealing to Magpul and asking the company to bring its business there.