DENVER — The founder and CEO of Magpul Industries, the high-capacity magazine manufacturer now threatening to leave Colorado if state lawmakers ban the product, tells FOX31 Denver that his company never threatened to relocate last year as they sought financial incentives from the state.
FOX31 Denver has confirmed that Magpul had discussions last year with the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade in which they asked about tax incentives and credits that might be available to them as they looked to consolidate their two facilities into a single space at North Park in Broomfield.
“They wanted some state support,” said Kathy Green, OEDIT’s spokeswoman. “We had some job training credits available but there was never any follow-up.”
According to Green, job training incentives would have been available only if the company was adding new jobs.
Last summer, Fitzpatrick reportedly told the governor’s office and Sam Bailey, the business development manager from OEDIT who toured Magpul’s facility, that Texas and Wyoming had lots of incentives for them should the company decide to relocate.
“That was not a threat. We never made any threat to leave,” Doug Smith, Magpul’s Chief Operating Officer, told FOX31 Denver late Thursday afternoon. “We were just mentioning, hey, these other states have approached us, this is something they offer.”
According to Smith and Fitzpatrick, the conversations with the state started at a business roundtable lunch hosted by the governor’s office where companies were asked about how the state can be more supportive and help them grow.
Bailey’s visit to Magpul’s Erie manufacturing plant followed the initial meeting at the Capitol.
“We were planning to move forward with the developer at North Park, but we put those plans on hold in December based on a change in the legislative environment,” Smith said.
Magpul meets with Hickenlooper Thursday
Fitzpatrick and Smith were back at the Capitol Thursday morning for a private meeting with Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has publicly stated that he will sign the proposed ban on high-capacity magazines if it gets to his desk.
That will depend on what happens in the Senate, which is set to debate the measure and six other Democratic gun control proposals Friday and — should Republicans filibuster the debate — possibly Saturday and even Sunday as well.
“We appreciated the governor’s time,” Smith told FOX31 Denver. “He gave us no indication of his position on this. It was just him and his staff listening.”
Two Democrats, Sens. Lois Tochtrop of Thornton and Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge, plan to vote against the magazine ban and two other bills; that means one more Democrat voting no would be enough to kill House Bill 1224, which bans magazines of 15 rounds or more.
“We will move our operations out of the state if this bill is passed into law,” Fitzpatrick told the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Capitol Monday.
Magpul executive: “We’re ideologically opposed to the ban”
The company is in the midst of an all-out public relations blitz, campaigning against the bill on its Facebook page and using the threat of relocation to drive up sales, launching an online Cold War-themed propaganda campaign and creating a site to sell a limited number of its magazines directly to Coloradans.
But it’s still unclear how much the proposed ban on magazines of 15 rounds or more would impact the company’s bottom line.
“We’re ideologically opposed to the ban,” Smith told FOX31 Denver. “We just don’t believe in it and we have a lot of brand equity with our customers we need to protect.”
The bill was amended in the House so that Magpul can continue to manufacture magazines of any size for sale and use in other states and countries; but the company says that continuing to operate in Colorado under the provisions of H.B. 1224, being forced to stamp serial numbers on every magazine they make, would put them at a disadvantage compared to manufacturers in other states.
“We think this is unenforceable,” Smith told FOX31. “You’ll never know, because companies in other states won’t have to use serial numbers and date stamps, when a magazine was made and whether that was before or after this law took effect.
“We just can’t be subject to that kind of regulatory risk and to a rule-making process,” Smith said.
While testifying against the bill Monday, Fitzpatrick outlined another potential problem — that even his 10-round magazine could be banned because it’s “readily adaptable”, which means additional cartridges can be attached to it to increase the number of rounds it holds.
“That would be a tremendous burden on us, legality-wise and also manufacturing-wise” Fitzpatrick told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But Fitzpatrick, who oversees a company that does more than $100 million in annual sales, largely from government and military contracts, admitted that Magpul’s opposition to the proposed ban and its threat to leave the state altogether is based, above all, on principle.
“We put tens of millions of dollars a year into the Colorado economy. We are proud to help revitalize American industry, but we are still governed by the principles the country was founded on 13 years ago,” Fitzpatrick testified on Monday.
“Saying that we can stay in Colorado and sell magazines to civilians in other states but not to our fellow Coloradans is counter to these values.”