By Jennifer Oldham
DENVER — Colorado’s largest maker of high- capacity ammunition magazines expresses its view of a gun- control push in the legislature this way: A red slash crosses out “Colorado” in the corporate logo on its Facebook page and replaces it with a question mark.
As Democratic lawmakers in its home state press to limit the capacity of magazines and impose other restrictions, Magpul Industries Corp. and a firm that supplies it, Alfred Manufacturing Inc., are threatening to take hundreds of jobs elsewhere.
The legislation’s “sweeping and arbitrary ban on magazines will also make it effectively impossible for this Colorado company to remain here,” wrote Richard Fitzpatrick, a former Marine who founded Magpul in his basement in 1999, and Doug Smith, the company’s chief operating officer, in an open letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers that appeared as a full-page ad in the Denver Post on Feb. 17.
The threats place Colorado lawmakers and Hickenlooper, a Democrat, at the center of a debate in Congress and statehouses nationwide: balancing calls to curb gun violence that followed mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., with the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Gun-control legislation is being considered in at least 10 other states including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Virginia and Vermont. Connecticut’s Democratic governor, Dannel Malloy, called Thursday for broadening the state’s ban on assault weapons to include the type of rifle used in the killing of 20 children and six adults at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Colorado’s Hickenlooper said recent mass shootings, coupled with the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in his state, are changing public opinions about guns.
“The tragedies at Columbine and Aurora really bring into sharp focus some of the differences in peoples’ attitudes,” Hickenlooper said at a forum this week sponsored by the Denver Post and the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, a Denver- based nonprofit group that promotes discussion of security issues. “I think because of the horrific nature of those shootings it’s put Colorado at the front of this debate.”