DENVER — Magpul Industries joined 54 Colorado county sheriffs Friday in filing a federal lawsuit against the state’s recently signed gun-control bills.
But even if the lawsuit is successful, the Erie-based firearms company is still planning to leave Colorado.
“Just to clarify, we are still moving, regardless of the outcome of this legal action,” said a Friday post on the company’s Facebook page. “That train has left the station, and we are well into the selection and negotiation process as well as arranging many elements to be prepared to launch and already moving some production out of state.”
The lawsuit challenges two bills signed in March by Gov. John Hickenlooper: House Bill 1224, which restricts ammunition-magazine capacity to 15 rounds or fewer, and House Bill 1229, which requires background checks on all gun sales and transfers, including temporary transfers.
“This isn’t good public policy. These are really awful bills,” said Weld County Sheriff John Cooke at a Friday press conference. “They are unenforceable and encourage disrespect for the law, which puts both law enforcement and the public in greater danger.”
The Democratic state legislature approved the bills, along with a third bill requiring gun owners to pay for their own background checks, with no Republican votes. Democratic state Sen. Mary Hodge issued a statement Friday accusing the sheriffs of “playing politics.”
“We can’t just sit by and do nothing while first-graders and moviegoers are being mowed down in one fell swoop with weapons equipped with large-capacity magazines,” said Ms. Hodge. “It’s time to stop playing politics and start protecting Coloradans from massacres and unnecessary gun violence.”
Mr. Cooke denied the charge. “We’re not the ones playing politics with this,” said Cooke. “We believe the [legislators] are the ones playing politics. We’re standing up for our constituents and the Constitution,” he said.
The bills were passed in reaction to two 2012 mass shootings: the Century 16 theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., which left 12 dead, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.
Attorney David Kopel, who serves as research director of the Independence Institute in Denver, said the bills violate the second and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The bills are scheduled to become law July 1. In reaction, several Colorado firearms companies, including Magpul, have said they will relocate. One manufacturer, HiViz Shooting Systems, announced earlier this month that it would move from Fort Collins to Laramie, Wyo.
Magpul, which makes firearms accessories, signed onto the lawsuit despite its relocation plans because “we will not turn our back on our native state,” said Duane Liptak, director of product management and marketing.
“Extreme gun-control interests have forced the passage of these unconstitutional laws in Colorado and, as a company, we are resolved to restore those rights to the people,” said Mr. Liptak in a statement.
He added that he hoped the lawsuit would have a “ripple effect” on other states that may be considering more restrictive firearms laws.
The company has move some of its production facilities outside Colorado, but has not yet announced where it plans to move. Officials in more than a dozen states have launched efforts to woo Magpul, which employs 200 workers and supports another 400 supply-chain jobs.