Guns

Colorado's Large-Capacity Magazine Ban Is a Colossal Failure

Can't buy it? That's okay, you can easily get the pieces to build one yourself.

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An unintended loophole in a Colorado gun control bill illustrates what happens when lawmakers legislate technology they don't understand: Firearms owners find a way to work around the law without breaking it.

In 2013, the Colorado legislature passed House Bill 13-1224, which prohibits the "sale, transfer, or possession of an ammunition feeding device that is capable of accepting, or that can be readily converted to accept, more than [15] rounds of ammunition or more than [8] shotgun shells (large-capacity magazine)." This was a year after James Holmes used a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a 100-round drum magazine (among other weapons) to kill 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. The bill grandfathered in old large-capacity magazines that gun owners already had in their possession but forbade new sales or transfers. Then-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed the bill into law on July 1. The law was intended to erase the market for new large-capacity magazines.

However, some gun dealers noticed that the bill made no mention of magazine components and capitalized on the omission. Dealers throughout the state began selling "parts kits" that contain everything a gun owner needs to assemble their own large-capacity magazine at home. In fact, some gun stores throughout the state now sell magazines only in parts kit form.

This phenomenon became so widespread that a local Colorado news agency, 9NEWS, decided to conduct undercover visits to local gun stores in six counties. 9NEWS reports that in 7 of the 10 stores the outlet visited, "employees at one store after another offered to sell a large-capacity magazine disassembled in parts" to their "9Wants to Know" investigative journalism team.

Among the stores that don't sell parts kits are two chains, Sportsman's Warehouse and Dick's Sporting Goods. It comes as no surprise that Dick's is embracing the spirit of the ban since the company's CEO, Edward Stack, recently revealed that Dick's destroyed $5 million of its own inventory of "assault weapons" in hopes of preventing mass shootings.

On the other hand, many local dealers have opted to exploit the loophole. "As soon as we remove the functionality of it and take this spring out, it's no longer a magazine," one salesman said pointing out how the terminology of the bill allows them to do this. "[A] monkey could put it back together again," a different salesman tells 9NEWS.

"I'm a little stunned about how open it is and how blatantly they're saying, 'You know, this is a stupid law, but this is the way you can get around it,'" state Sen. Rhonda Fields (D–Aurora), one of the bill's sponsors, told 9News. "The whole goal, when I ran the bill in 2013, was to limit that capacity."

Some stores aren't even making an attempt to comply with Colorado's flawed magazine ban. Two of the 10 stores 9NEWS visited operated "as though the ban did not exist."

"We're a sanctuary county, we don't give a f—. We just sell everything as is, preassembled," an employee at Family Firearms Sales, a gun store in Colorado Springs told 9NEWS. Another employee at Tacticool Arms in Weld County openly admitted the store continues to sell preassembled 75-round drum magazines. "Our sheriff has openly stated he does not agree with the magazine ban, he believes it's unconstitutional and will not enforce it," claims the employee.

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, while stating that enforcing the magazine ban isn't a top priority for his department, denies opposing the magazine ban and said that he will "probably have a conversation with [the Tacticool employee] and talk about [his] business practices" after 9NEWS brought this to his attention.

Colorado's large-capacity magazine ban isn't the only example of gun regulation that has failed. For example, take President Donald Trump's attempt to ban bump stocks, a firearm accessory that essentially harnesses a gun's recoil to increase its rate of fire. After Trump issued an executive order requiring Americans to surrender their firearm accessories or risk being in violation of federal law, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives collected fewer than 1,000 bump stocks out of an estimated 280,000-500,000 in circulation. The overwhelming majority of bump stock owners decided to take their chances.

Similarly, when New Jersey imposed a 10-round limit on magazines in the state and mandated that any existing large-capacity magazines be surrendered last year, "approximately zero" of New Jersey's 1 million gun owners decided to turn them in, reported Reason's Jacob Sullum.

Between exploitation and blatant disobedience of Colorado's existing magazine ban, it doesn't look like large-capacity magazines are going anywhere anytime soon in the Centennial State. In fact, Colorado's Supreme Court heard arguments concerning the constitutionality of the state's large-capacity magazine ban yesterday, meaning a repeal of this broken law is a possibility. Even if the ban doesn't get overruled, as Reason's J.D. Tuccille notes, American gun owners' usual response to arbitrary gun prohibition has been, "Molon labe," or simply, "come and take them."

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  1. Who knew that a ban on a box with a spring would be so hard to enforce? Remember this law was written by people who think knowledge of firearms is unnecessary in order to write laws regulating firearms.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/03/06/the-nra-and-its-allies-use-jargon-to-bully-gun-control-supporters/

    1. Haha, I remember that…”wahhh! gunsplaining!”

    2. WaPo: What an utterly asinine article author.
      With regard to this article, I find it a hopeful sign that gun owners are simply subverting or ignoring unconstitutional laws at this point.

      In the course of time, I expect some Francis O’Rourke type politician to actually push widespread confiscation. At that point, I would hope the Second Amendment would be used for its true purpose – to slay the agents of oppression, beginning with the legislators who pass laws to infringe rights.

      Imagine how much different the picture would be if, the instant a legislative body passed an anti-Second Amendment law, everyone who voted in favor of it was summarily assassinated – beaten over the head with baseball bats, their houses burned to the ground in the middle of the night, electrocuted or poisoned or their cars blown to hell. The beauty would be so many anti-Second Amendment criminals executed using means other than guns! How long before the bill was reversed and politicians stopped attacking the Constitutional rights of the People?

      It’s appropriate that the government should fear the People – not the other way round.

    3. No idea why anyone needs a high capacity magazine loader. Must be for the childish delight people get from fucking with The Man. Moronic to the max. Have fun kids.

      1. So you admit your ignorance, and then jump to a conclusion based on that ignorance.

        Did you have anything coherent to say?

      2. What is a high capacity magazine loader?

        1. My magazine loader saves wear and tear on the thumbs, Loading ten mags manually with 30 rounds each can get a bit much after the third or fourth one.

          Which doesn’t negate fuedi’s ignorance on the subject,

      3. Not a question of need you cry baby. Have a snickers Divafeudi. LOL

      4. No idea why anyone “needs” to sit at the front of the bus. They are going to get to their destination at the same time as the people in the front of the bus.

        No idea why anyone “needs” both a Twitter account and a Facebook account. After all, the framing fathers only meant “quill and ink” when referring to free speech.

        No idea why anyone “needs” their email to remain unread by anyone other than the intended recipient. After all, email is not “paper”.

        Tell us more about these need based rights that we have feudi.

  2. prohibits the “sale, transfer, or possession of an ammunition feeding device ….”

    Emphasis added. So, once you assemble the legal kit, get ready to be SWATed?

    1. The federating of firearms design has become kind of interesting. It would be neat to have a class of ‘Colorado legal’ firearms that holds 30 or even hundreds of rounds in a closed or out-of-battery position, but without a spring/under no tension. So, rather than possessing and inserting an illegal magazine, you just insert a pre-compressed spring.

        1. Those exist.

          Link?

          Kinda my point is that lots of a wide array of firearms exist on paper, as prototypes, or in severely limited production and never get to market because it’s so dominated or even saturated with a select few, and not necessarily superior, types. Not saying we should have the laws, but that the market manages to take even dark clouds and put a silver lining on them.

          1. Not saying we should have the laws

            Although there is something to be said about the military industrial complex when the most prolific manufacturers and gun types are those used by our own military.

    2. “ammunition feeding device”

      You should be able to get around this law just by challenging the language of it.

        1. Exactly. It’s like a “politician feeding device”. Is that a lobbyist or a woodchipper?

          1. Actually, it’s a Ukrainian.

            1. Ecoll: It’s the other way around. And if you don’t feed them, Congress has a hissy fit.

              1. When is Congress not having a hissy fit?

    3. Re: swatted, LOL. Unless they can show you bought that magazine post-ban, they can’t do anything. “Oh, sorry Officer Friendly, that kit I bought at Acme Guns was missing parts so I threw it away. This here magazine was my great-grandfathers, brought back after the war.”

      /raises middle finger as cop drives away

      1. Well it is not like they have serial numbers, though I have been stashing away receipts for any mags I’ve bought over the past few years. JIC

      2. I don’t think that works when possession is banned.

        1. Possession of Arms cant be banned, as per the 2nd Amendment and incorporated to the states via the 14A.

          1. Dream on. That may be right in theory (although incorporating rights through the 14A is a bad idea), but not in practice.

        2. You don’t understand — possession of a large cap. magazine *is not* banned, except in cases where the magazine was acquired after the bill became law. The onus would be on law enforcement to prove the mag in your possession was illegally acquired, which, as I tried to illustrate with my example, should be damn hard to do.

    4. Once you assemble the kit, you ARE ready for the SWAT team.

  3. If they try to close the “loophole” by banning the sale of parts, they’ll be disappointed by that too.

    Of course it will be amusing to watch them try to ban springs.

    1. MST3K showed me what a world without springs would look like.

      1. Mystery Science Theater? I remember a one thing made from a lacrosse racket and anther from a gumball machine.

    2. “watch them try to ban springs”

      Proposed in Philly a few years back, in a roundabout sort of way. Ban on 3-D printed gun parts that was so ambiguous it would have included screws and springs.

  4. That pic reminds me that I really need to buy another M-1 carbine.

    1. They’re really wonderful little guns. A pity the ammunition can sometimes be difficult to get.

      1. It used to be so cheap and plentiful! (surplus)

    2. I signed in to Reason just to point that the photo shows a 15 round magazine for the M 1 Carbine.
      An obscure WW2 gun by modern standards.
      Although it was the first pistol caliber carbine long before pcc’s were flying off the shelves.

      1. It’s pretty darned popular. I love them and lots of others do.

        And, it isn’t just WW-II. It was also used a lot in Korea and some in Vietnam.

        Also, they are still being made – just not purchased by the US government.

    3. a lovely weapon that is conveniently exempted from assault weapons bans… mostly due to its entirely non-threatening wood stock.

      Just don’t you dare think about getting the paratrooper version. That thing is a complete death machine that can only be used for killing children.

      1. The M1 Carbine is included under some state assault weapon bans, specifically excluded under others.

        I own mine as a military collectible and shoot it in military matches at the local gun club. Tennessee recognizes collection as curio or ornament as a legitimate reason to own an as-issued military rifle. That includes standard capacity magazines (15 and 30 round).

  5. “I’m a little stunned about how open it is and how blatantly they’re saying, ‘You know, this is a stupid law, but this is the way you can get around it,'” state Sen. Rhonda Fields (D–Aurora), one of the bill’s sponsors, told 9News. “The whole goal, when I ran the bill in 2013, was to limit that capacity.”

    Speaking of stupid, and “limited capacity”…

    1. Funny, but true.

      1. Went and read the article. It’s a hit piece. And at the bottom of the article – STORES WE VISITED.

        I hope that doxxing these stores gives them an increase in business.

        1. I wasn’t aware of Family Firearms Sales policy on the subject, but now that I am I’ll be stopping by after work to get some goodies.

    2. I’ve actually met Rhonda Fields. Quintessential political glad-hander with the personal warmth and charisma of an ice cube, but because north Aurora is now a third-world shithole after 20 years of mass Central American immigration, she’s won her elections easily.

      What’s interesting about her story is that her son and his girlfriend were murdered by gang members in a hit job because he was going to testify against other members of the gang. She’s been a hardcore gun-grabber ever since.

      1. Gang members around here have their own illegal suppliers of guns.
        How clueless are these politicians who want to punish those who are not gang members by felonizing them with bs redefinitions of legal gun types into illegal types.
        Safer than targeting gang members I guess.

  6. This phenomenon became so widespread that a local Colorado news agency, 9NEWS, decided to conduct undercover visits to local gun stores in six counties.

    Why would something that’s completely legal and “above board” require “undercover visits”? Or does the local media frame these visits in this way in service to a narrative suggesting that this isn’t legal or above board?

    1. I’m told it’s mostly to spice up some otherwise boring news.

    2. Because the local media has such a poor reputation that no one will talk to them?

      1. More likely, it’s because news reporters are idiots and no nothings – especially when it comes to gun laws or guns or civil liberties.

    3. The media are hostile to most civil liberties, and will try hard to demonize and discredit them.

  7. “what happens when lawmakers legislate technology they don’t understand”

    It’s like stupid du jour; I don’t know what it is but they have it every day.

  8. Colorado has an influx of statist parasites from New Jersey, Chicago and California who vote for this shit.

    I bet the Danes and Swedes wish they had unrestricted gun rights, as gang bombings and shootings are spilling over into once peaceful exurbs and suburbs. Military border controls and closings, first time since 1950. The left and global corporatists continue to drone on the superiority of these countries and the EU over the U.S. This is the U.S. vision.

    1. Colorado has an influx of statist parasites from New Jersey, Chicago and California who vote for this shit.

      You’re also forgetting the mass immigration from Central America throughout the Front Range over the last 20 years.

      1. I will bet those from south of the border do not have an irrational fear of guns, and might even own some. Plus they seem more willing to do actual work.

        Maybe we can send the domestic statists down to Guatemala.

        1. I will bet those from south of the border do not have an irrational fear of guns, and might even own some. Plus they seem more willing to do actual work.

          Yeah, those third-world peasants are natural conservatives and don’t ever support socialist government programs.

  9. “Similarly, when New Jersey imposed a 10-round limit on magazines in the state and mandated that any existing large-capacity magazines be surrendered last year, “approximately zero” of New Jersey’s 1 million gun owners decided to turn them in,”

    Doesn’t matter; it’s a moral victory, because they “did something”

    1. Similar thing in CT and NY.

  10. I live in the Springs, and that quote just earned Family Firearms Sales a new customer.

  11. On the other hand, many local dealers have opted to exploit the loophole.

    All gun dealers already exploit the 2nd Amendment loophole. It’s stunning.

    1. Loophole: Obeying a law as it’s written.

  12. “An unintended loophole…” There is no such thing as an unintended loophole. This is how politicians work.
    1) To gun haters: New statute outlawing 15+ round magazines!
    2) To pro-gunners: All parts are sold disassembled in a plastic bag.
    Takes a few minutes to assemble.
    This is how we’ve been buying high capacity magazines in CA. for
    several years now. Thank God for gun lobbists!

  13. is there a program to print one yet?

    1. Yes, but I would bet a printed plastic spring has a short service life.

      1. In 10 yrs. you’ll be able to print both the plastic and the spring steel on your device at home. SpaceX is already sintering rocket nozzles out of special alloys, so it’s only a matter of time before you won’t go to the hardware store to buy a screwdriver or order your magazines online from some far away factory.

        1. There are already laser sintering 3D printers on the market for around $10K that are about the size of a refrigerator. Expensive, but not necessarily beyond the reach of a serious hobbyist.

          1. Good God are you idiots predictable.

          2. Serious hobbyists have been able to lay their hands on $10K professional grade telescopes, custom cars, custom guns, rockets, mainframe and cluster computers, solar panel kits, wind panel kits, drones and all manner of RC devices… for decades. Any minute now the custom car, custom gun, custom rocket, custom computing, custom home power, custom robot automation market will take off! If not, of their own volition, then once the 3-D printing market takes off!

            1. Granted, I doubt any of these things will “take off” in the sense of becoming household items. But there *are* markets for *all* of these things, and they’ve been around for a *long* time.

              Because there *are* serious hobbyists.

              But I doubt that 3D printed metal will become a thing. It’s much easier, cheaper, and probably more versatile to stick with CNC mills and lathes.

          3. Or you can simply use a $1000 tabletop lathe/mill and do it by hand. If that’s too scary or you really insist on getting a computer involved, add a CNC kit for another $1000.

  14. When I first took my AR to the range I was nervous to use my 30 round “rebuild kits”, I had purchased at the local store in Centennial, CO. So, I bought a smaller 10 round one just in case. The guy next to me was using 30 round mags. When I asked him about it he said it was no big deal and that he was a Deputy Sheriff for Jefferson County. Apparently nobody follows this law, and it seems LEOs don’t really care. Not sure if that’s the case everywhere in CO, but it is here in the south Denver metro area.

  15. Ammunition is not a living thing. It doesn’t need to be fed.

  16. This was a year after James Holmes used a semiautomatic rifle equipped with a 100-round drum magazine (among other weapons) to kill 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

    Want to know the irony of this? The fucking thing jammed on him, because that’s what these things tend to do (it’s why our combat troops don’t go into battle using them). If he had actually used 30-round mags, the damage probably would have been far worse.

    1. Similarly, when New Jersey imposed a 10-round limit on magazines in the state and mandated that any existing large-capacity magazines be surrendered last year, “approximately zero” of New Jersey’s 1 million gun owners decided to turn them in, https://www.mykfcexperience.onl/

  17. Speaking of no need to know firearms to legislate firearms, no need to know firearms to write about them: “… bump stocks, a firearm accessory that essentially harnesses a gun’s recoil to increase its rate of fire.”

    A bump stock pulls the trigger exactly as one’s finger may pull the trigger, no faster, nothing changes to “increase its rate of fire.” Bump stocks were invented by observing one could loosely hold a semi-automatic rifle just right with rigid trigger finger for a fully automatic effect. Bump stock only makes holding the rifle “just right” a bit easier. It still requires some skill of the operator to hold it “just right.”

  18. The bill grandfathered in old large-capacity magazines that gun owners already had in their possession but forbade new sales or transfers.

    So what was supposed to happen when the current owners died? They don’t call it “grandfathering” for nothing.

    1. Now that the see the consequences, shown to them by the lefty “investigative” media, they’ll remove the grandfather provision from the law.

  19. Since a magazine is just a couple of pieces of stamped metal and a spring, I’ve always wondered how hard it would be to sell them unassembled. I find wonderful that it took about 15 minutes for people to outsmart the politicians.

  20. Great news for Colorado. Proving once again LIBTARDS are more than just a little stupid.

  21. This reminds me of the AR-15. The part that the government considers the gun, the lower receiver, *isn’t* a gun, because Congressional law requires the part that’s considered a gun to be able to accept a barrel. The part that actually has the barrel, the upper receiver, *isn’t* a gun, either, because it doesn’t have a place for the trigger (again, as required by Congress).

    The greatest irony? When Eugene Stoner decided to create a new gun design to attempt to sell to the US Military, he didn’t set out to completely bypass Congress’s gun law. He merely decided to design something that was versatile, easy to use, and took advantage of modern manufacturing processes and materials.

    Gun laws are so absurd, you can bypass them *by accident* — about as easily as you could violate them *by accident*.

  22. This is one of the interesting info that I have ever come across. Thank you for sharing with us all

  23. LOL, just order from private seller from out of state.

  24. “I’m a little stunned about how open it is and how blatantly they’re saying, ‘You know, this is a stupid law, but this is the way you can get around it,'” state Sen. Rhonda Fields (D–Aurora), one of the bill’s sponsors, told 9News. “The whole goal, when I ran the bill in 2013, was to limit that capacity.”

    Well, dear Rhonda, maybe you are simply not qualified to be a legislator if you can’t actually author legislation that works as intended. How about resigning and handing over your post to someone competent?

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  26. We can’t forget Diana DeGette’s comment, “These are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now, they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.” Makes me laugh every time I think of it. What’s not funny is, why is she still in office?

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