DENVER, Colo. (March 26, 2018) – Last week, a Colorado Senate committee passed a bill that would repeal state prohibitions on high capacity magazines as well as a magazine date stamp requirement. Passage would not only remove restrictions currently imposed on Coloradans, it would also foster an environment hostile to federal gun control.
Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) introduced Senate Bill 52 (SB52) on Jan. 10. The legislation would repeal the current law banning high-capacity magazines. Under Colorado state law, magazines that allow more than 15 rifle rounds or 25 shotgun shells are prohibited. Selling, transferring or selling such a magazine is a class 2 misdemeanor. Another statute requires a date stamp on all magazines produced in the state after 2013 when the law took effect.
Senate Bill 52 would repeal both these statues, protecting the gun rights of Colorado residents.
On March 19, the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee narrowly passed SB52 by a 3-2 vote.
Gun regulations such as these do nothing but leave law-abiding gun owners vulnerable to arrest by government agencies and prosecution by unfriendly district or county attorneys. Restricting magazine sizes does not change human nature. Criminals who violate all other state and federal laws won’t be finicky about adhering to these two.
The current law also violates Section 13 of the Colorado State Constitution, which states:
The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.
It’s a policy that has been fiercely contested at a local level.
One gun website reports:
The magazine limits were heavily contested by the Colorado Sheriffs who sued Governor Hickenlooper over the law. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, because no one had been prosecuted under the law’s provisions.
After the passage of the law, retailers and firearms owners quickly found ways to circumvent it, as opponents had predicted.
As of 2016, there were no prosecutions under the law, according to David Kopel, a firearms law expert. And that’s because “The laws are unenforceable, and they haven’t been enforced,” he told denverpost.com.
Firearms magazines do not generally have serial numbers or dates of manufacture stamped on them. There are hundreds of millions of magazines in the United States in private hands.
While passage of SB52 would not directly affect federal gun control, it would subtly undermine federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway. The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing SB52 would lower barriers for those wanting to the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
SB52 now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.
Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.