DENVER — Colorado Democrats rejected Monday a chance for a do-over on last year’s hotly debated gun-control bills, killing a Republican-sponsored measure to repeal the limit on ammunition-magazine capacity.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, also known as the “kill committee,” voted 7-4 on a party-line vote to defeat a bill that would have repealed last year’s measure limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds.
That bill, signed into law in March by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, touched off a grass-roots revolt that led to the first-ever recalls of two Democratic state senators and prompted a third to resign rather than face a vote.
One of the repeal bill’s sponsors, Republican state Rep. Chris Holbert, urged the committee to “recognize that this was bad legislation.”
“This legislation doesn’t make us safer. It doesn’t limit a criminal’s ability to do something monstrous,” said Mr. Holbert. “All it does is punish law abiding citizens and say that we have to suffer some consequence.”
Republicans had vowed to try and overturn last year’s controversial gun-control measures even though Democrats still control both houses of the Legislature. Last week, Senate Democrats killed a bill to repeal last year’s law extending background checks to all private sales and transfers.
The gun-control measures, passed in March by the Democrat-controlled Legislature with no Republican votes, came in reaction to the 2012 mass shootings at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Monday’s five-hour hearing included testimony from family members of victims of the Aurora and Newtown shootings, who urged the committee to keep the magazine limit on the books.
Law-enforcement officials have called the law unenforceable, saying it’s impossible to tell which magazines were grandfathered in before the law went into effect in July and which were purchased afterward.
“This ban literally turned thousands of law-abiding gun owners into criminals,” said Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, one of 54 county sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit last year against the magazine-limit law.
The law also prompted Magpul Industries, a manufacturer of firearms accessories, to announce that it would relocate its operations from Colorado to Texas and Wyoming, taking with it 200 direct jobs and another 600 supply-chain jobs.
“I understand the folks that voted for [the magazine limit] may not like Magpul or what it stands for or its products; however, I do ask that you consider the folks that are losing their jobs as a result of last year’s bill,” said Republican state Rep. Lori Saine.
Republicans knew going into the hearing that they didn’t have the votes, and ultimately they failed to persuade any of the panel’s Democrats to break ranks.
“I know this is not going to end all the gun violence, but we have to start somewhere,” said Democratic state Rep. Jeanne Labuda. “If we’re the ninth state or the tenth state to do this, it might take a while, but maybe in another 10 years, all 50 states will have some kind of magazine limit, and that’s when the true results will be seen.”