Colorado Magazine Capacity Law Ripe for Repeal?

Mags galore! (courtesy Joe Grine for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Republicans in the Colorado Senate have introduced a bill to repeal the limits placed on magazine capacity in 2013. Here the summary of SB18-052:

Prohibiting the possession of certain ammunition magazines; and

Requiring each of certain ammunition magazines that are manufactured in Colorado on or after July 1, 2013, to include a permanent stamp or marking indicating that the magazine was manufactured or assembled after July 1, 2013.

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.

The Colorado ban on magazines with a capacity of over 15 rounds only applies if the magazines were manufactured after 2013. 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.

Large numbers of modern firearms come with standard capacity magazines of more than 15 rounds.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar MyName says:

    Here’s hoping they get it repealed, this time.

    The Colorado mag capacity limit is, possibly, the least enforceable one in the U.S. As noted in the OP, the law only applies to mags made after 6/31/13 – which is difficult to establish, and, the law allows for repair parts for older magazines to be sold. This, effectively, means that you could take apart say, 4 magazines of a given type, go buy a spring for one, a follower for another, a box for a third and a floor plate for a fourth, mix and match these parts and then assemble 5 magazines. But don’t you go out and buy a 5th magazine pre assembled.

    Also, even though the law makes mention of a requirement for date stamping on newly manufactured mags, I do not believe there is a provision prohibiting the defacing of said date stamp analogous to the prohibitions in place for firearm serial numbers. One could probably stamp “mfg. 2012” on all of ones magazines and provide enough reasonable doubt to end any prosecution, if one ever were to occur.

    1. avatar Cal S. says:

      While correct, it is a pain in the neck for those of us who want to buy new, cool guns that require proprietary magazines. For instance, a Colorado resident would definitely be in trouble under the provisions of this law if he/she bought an Evo Scorpion, went to Wyoming and bought a 20-30 round magazine for it (or obtained it through uninhibited sales still going on in the state). Why? Because it’s an open and shut case for any LEO that sees it at the range. The gun simply wasn’t available before the magazine ban went into force. It also includes larger magazines debuted after the ban went into effect, like the new-ish Magpul D-60 or Redball Hi-Point 20-round mags.

      I’m a CO concealed carry instructor, and I’ve encountered questions about this topic a lot. I table that discussion for the end of class and after I hand out certs so I’m “not” their instructor anymore, just a guy in the know. My advice has always been to do what your conscience tells them. However, one of the first rules of justifiable use of force is not committing any other crimes at the time (yes, there’s a lot of nuances I’m glossing over). So, if they decide to run a Scorpion or other firearm that couldn’t have existed before the ban, and they happen to have to use it in self-defense, then they’d better be ready for those charges to face them in court since it will most likely be discovered in the ensuing investigation. I also advise students new to the state to stay away from guns with 15+ round mags that they didn’t bring with them. If the investigation includes bills of sale or receipts for the firearm in question, that’s also going to betray them in the end.

      1. avatar MyName says:

        I agree, it is a PITA and that is why I want it repealed and, as the years go by, it will become easier to enforce in the areas you mention (proprietary and new designs that don’t predate 2013). To date, however, it has been fairly meaningless for the the intended purpose which was, patently, to ban the 30 round AR mag.

        1. avatar AverageJoe66 says:

          Don’t waste too much time and effort chatting about it here… if you want it repealed, contact your state legislators. http://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator

      2. avatar California Richard says:

        While it’s a shame in a free society to rely on the ignorance or indiference of LEO’s to commit harmless acts of civil disaobedience, I would venture a safe bet that nearly all LEO’s would not know the year of manufacture of any firearm/magazine, and those that did would not likely care that you had a “prohibited” magazine…. beyond that, it seems that no DA in Colorado wants to touch this law with a 10 foot pole. Sounds like Colorado is doing like California and NY and passing unenforceable laws, that the cops could care less about, that only effect local retailers and get otherwise law abiding citizens to get in the habit of …. um… finding questionable workarounds.

      3. avatar Jason says:

        The law makes no provision for magazines purchased in another state and brought to Colorado. I have used my Scorpion EVO magazines, bought at Colorado LGS next to LEO and they didn’t say squat about it.

        Before local retailers started selling magazine kits, etc, people would just drive over the border to Wyoming, Kansas or New Mexico, buy their magazines and bring them home…. and nobody has been prosecuted for it let alone having their property confiscated.

        Now the chance that a repeal happens?

        Zero as long as the state government is headed by Hickenlooper.

        1. avatar Will says:

          The law bans possession so no it’s not legal to drive to WY and pick up whatever you want and come back and it’s also illegal to assemble a repair kit. But, like everyone says, it’s not enforced.

        2. avatar Greg says:

          Well, technically the law says you must have continuous possession of the magazine since before the July 2013 cutoff date. Simple possession of a magazine over 15rds is not an offense, the burden of proof that you did not obtain the magazine legally is on the justice system. If you paid cash for some magazines made in 2009 and brought them into the state, you would be violating the law, but once you are in the state, it would be nearly impossible to prove you did not have them since 2009.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    I hope it gets repealed. It’s nothing but tyrant policy by those intolerant of gun owners. No criminal seeking to perform mass murder or kill people is going to follow this ridiculous law. Making a law, requires some faith that the people will follow it, and that satisfies a moral dilemma. The law against killing people is amazingly simple and has steep punishments associated with it. Any additional legislation hurts those with no intent to harm, and does little to stop those who do. We already have a law covering all these mass shootings, and criminal problems. It is the law against murder.

  3. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    “The Colorado mag capacity limit is, possibly, the least enforceable one in the U.S.”

    Don’t say that, dammit. Now the other states will try harder.

  4. avatar Missouri_Mule says:

    I will bet you a vintage 2012 Magpul 30 they fail to repeal….

    1. avatar MyName says:

      They probably will fail, unfortunately. Fortunately, magpul 30s are plastic and plastic doesn’t retain date stamps particularly well.

    2. avatar Adam says:

      Considering that the governor that signed the bill into law in 2013 is still the governor today and also considering that CO is steadily on the march to become a blue state, there is no doubt in my mind that this bill will 100% not get passed.

      CO is sadly one of those once great states that took in too many transplants from commie states like CA. The disease is spreading and democracy by and large is further shown to be a failure when it comes to the rights of the individual.

  5. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    You would think by now people would realize laws do not stop crime. Seriously the Ten Commandments never stopped Cain from murdering Abel. They haven’t stopped millions of church members and preachers from cheating on their spouses and they haven’t stopped billions of people from stealing. Wake up pull your head out of your a$$ and realize laws DO NOT STOP ANYTHING!!!! They are guidelines that tell you what actions will be punished and what that punishment can be they cannot by their very nature prevent a crime. Until you are caught actually breaking the law or evidence is found saying you violated the law you have not committed a crime.

    1. avatar Stu in az says:

      Not to take anything away from your point, but Cain committed murder long before Moses announced the 10 commandments. That’s not to say he didn’t still know it was wrong.

      1. avatar Davidb says:

        Actually, God spoke the Ten Commandments himself. The people directly received the word of God, not through an intermediary.
        See Genesis 19 and 20.

        1. avatar El Duderino says:

          I think you missed the point. Cain and Abel lived over two thousand years before Moses and God revealing the Ten Commandments. Unless your Bible says a young man in an orange vestment visited antediluvian Earth in a mystical shiny flying machine and shared the Book of Exodus with them…

    2. avatar Jason says:

      Able was born before God gave Moses the Ten Commandmsnts.

  6. avatar barnbwt says:

    I’ve never understood the argument of lack of standing due to absence of prosecution. As though being subject to the law itself fails to give someone grounds to contest it, and as though threat of prosecution does not constitute a burden. It’s flies in the face of the logic behind laws against protection rackets. A baker contesting aviation laws is one thing, but this dumb law effects all private persons.

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      That’s to prevent challenges to the law by putting extreme (imprisonment) costs upon the plaintiff before giving him permission to challenge the law.

      It’s my position that every citizen of this country has standing to challenge every violation of this country’s Constitution, by virtue of the fact that it’s OUR CONSTITUTION BEING STOLEN FROM US.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      barnbwt,

      You highlight an example of the absurdity of our courts which are supposed to be operating under Common Law.

      As with anything else government, government entities pick and choose whatever suits government.*

      * Under Common Law, there is no crime if there is no victim. That is why the courts want you to suffer arrest/fine/jail (which makes you a victim) before they will entertain a lawsuit to potentially overturn the responsible law. And yet the courts will enthusiastically allow prosecutions of victimless crimes.

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        That make sense, provided there is no actual victim…but again, even with a moderate threshold, the expense & risk associated with complying with the law is very provable.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          The sheriff’s challenge was thrown out for lack of standing.

          OK. Annoying, but OK.

          How about finding someone, perhaps retired, to volunteer to be prosecuted by a sheriff?

          They can be Colorado’s ‘Heller’ or ‘Otis McDonald’. (Yeah, yeah, I’m fully aware they were never charged with a crime, but they were denied the permits they sought. That gave them the standing they needed for eventual resolution at SCOTUS.)

          Then the sheriff can then re-file, this time *with* standing, no?

          What am I missing with that logic?

  7. avatar IdahoBoy says:

    Just don’t buy a magazine made in Colorado.

  8. avatar Michael Bane says:

    Our understanding is that the law has been applied 1 time as an “add-on” in a drug case. It is indeed unenforceable and at this point is completely ignored by retailers, shooters and competitors.

    I created a huge s%#t-storm by pulling my productions out of Colorado for a year, largely out of fear that we are a “high value target” and would prove a good test case for the law. I have been back producing in Colorado for a while, but most of my production is still out of state and will likely never come back. For example, before the Idiot Law, I was actively moving all production for THE BEST DEFENSE into Colorado, since Michael Janich, Andrew Branca and I, along with my SHOOTING GALLERY crew, live in Colorado. The show is now happily located in Tulsa with our production facilities there, and I see no reason to change that. We did one Colorado filming because of location issues a couple of years back.

    SHOOTING GALLERY, preparing to start on its 19th season, remains a “location” show…we film all over the country and internationally. I can only think of a few episodes we’ve filmed here since 2013. Of course, GUN STORIES WITH JOE MONTEGNA is primarily an LA-based show, with additional filming in Tulsa, Virginia and Arizona.

    Pretty much the only filming we do in CO is for the Internet, and since I completed my recording studio last year we add virtually zero money to the community.

    All forms of competition using standard capacity magazines are running across the state after a short period of shutdown while we accessed whether there was any intent to enforce the law. I would still suggest caution in Denver, which isn’t actually in Colorado, and Boulder, which isn’t exactly in this universe. Denver has its own “assault weapon ban,” which also has never been enforced, and Boulder is bat-s#%t crazy. I would recommend a locked gun case when passing through those communities.

    We do have issues with rogue ostensibly pro-gun organizations that exist to collect money and basically undermine the real 2A activists.

    But a law that is fundamentally unenforceable; that is not enforced (indeed, 90% of CO law enforcement have said that will NOT even attempt to enforce it); that is openly flaunted and that was passed based on testimony from a Bloomberg ATF shill who told the legislature that the ATF did not issue ANY magazines of greater than 15 rounds (ARs, you lying pile of crap); a law whose other provision, the mandatory date marking of magazines, has been ignored by consumers, manufacturers and law enforcement; a law that was passed over the vocal protest of millions of Coloradans… IS A LAW THAT SHOULD BE REPEALED!

    We’re working on it.

    Michael B

    1. avatar MyName says:

      Mr. Bane,

      Thank you for being a visible and helpful voice for gun rights in Colorado. It is a shame that you are no longer doing much production in Colorado but I appreciate that you are still fighting the good fight in CO.

      Be careful in Tulsa, all that humidity and thick air is bad for high altitude folk.

  9. avatar Roger Cain says:

    I do not live in Colorado currently but think I may move their in a few years. If they think I’m not bringing my current inventory with me, they are crazy. Crazy laws are to be ignored.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      Come on in and don’t worry yourself about the silly rules – no one who agrees with the law will know and no one who disagrees with it will mind.

  10. avatar Bil says:

    Not a chance in hell of this passing in the House. Colorado will be a solid blue state come November. Governor Polis will never sign it.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      As long as 50% + 1 of the Colorado population votes Democrat (which is probably the case for the foreseeable future), this law will be on the books.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        Why Mexicans/Central Americans need to GO HOME.

  11. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    Dudley Brown hopefully supports this. I know the last go around he helped kill the repeal bill.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      Last time, it wasn’t a clean repeal but, rather, an increase in the limit from 15 to 30. The position Ole Dudley took was that this was insufficient (even though it would have allowed the vast majority of standard capacity mags to be, once again, legally available). His position was that only a complete repeal was acceptable.

      The phrase, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”, comes to mind.

      1. avatar neiowa says:

        The phrase, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

        Sing centuries of scoundrels.

  12. avatar Jon in CO says:

    The law is circumvented IN the state daily. Mags are sold as “kits” and no harm to the seller. Magazines like Pmags have date codes for when they were manufactured, but they’re polymer. It scratches and scuffs fairly easily. There’s also nothing in the law against removing cage codes. So it really doesn’t matter, and the burned of proof is on the state that you violated the law.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      Interesting ‘fruedian slip’ there since burned is a good way to remove that date code.

  13. avatar stateisevil says:

    It will never be repealed. Like any state with huge population surges, gun rights will die a very slow death. In fact, the anti gun movement has already won. It’s just that their victory won’t be realized in our lifetimes.

  14. avatar Mr.Savage says:

    if no one complies, and no one enforces, I guess it’s not really a law is it? I won’t say from where, but I live in Colorado, I just acquired my new dpms lr.243 ar10, brand new off a colorado shelf, with a STANDARD 20 round magazine, even at select ffl dealers state wide, where they believe the law is bullshit, and have also proved to local law as unenforceable, you can in fact find standard capacity magazines, and even a true “high capacity” mag every now and then. there never were any date codes on my mags, and the 3 troy battle mags with the stupid pin attached to the base plate to limit to 10 ($15 for the 3 new) only had a lightly raised “10 rounds ” stamped, they don’t fire 10 rounds……

    1. avatar MyName says:

      My personal favorites are the GI mags at gun shows “permanently altered” to limit them to 15 rounds by the insertion of an aluminum pop rivet. I guess the Diana Degettes of the world think that gun owners don’t know how 1/8″ drill bits work.

      Oh, btw, AR10 in .243, good call.

  15. avatar bobo says:

    too late colorado!

    Magpul already left the state
    AND
    Took its ball to a new home
    Along with
    tax revenue
    high paying jobs
    and a contract for making mags for the US military for YEARS that Guaranteed all of the above!

  16. avatar Nick says:

    The law was so poorly written there is a myriad of ways to circumvent it. Why should we not be surprised through. Remember the Colorado lawmaker at the time who thought once the cartridges were fired from the magazine that it was permanently empty?

    1. avatar Cloud says:

      That was the idiot Diana Degette. She’s in the House of Representatives. The moron who wrote this law is a woman who represents Aurora. Her first name is Rhonda. I forget her last name.

  17. avatar Jason says:

    Honestly the problem with this law is not what it’s doing to me, which is nothing… it’s what it will do to our kids and their kids as Colorado gets bluer every year.

  18. avatar karina says:

    poor babies…because you have difficulty buying large magazines for your toys you want this law repealed.
    Well, tell your sob stories to the people who’ve lost their children to people with “cool weapons” with high capacity magazines.
    Time and again, from Sandy Hook to the Nancy Giffords shooting to the Vegas shooting, once the person ran out of ammo peoples lives were saved.

  19. avatar Melanie says:

    Yes! Finally someone rites about criminal lawyer salary.

  20. avatar EJMullane says:

    The latest murder, in Florida, had nothing to do with magazine capacity. The Fumbling Bumbling Incompetents and the Coward County Sheriff let this ***** slip through their fingers 42 times at last count, and did nothing for political reasons. Then, when he acted on his delusional fantasies, the sheriff deputies on scene stood by while he murdered 17 people. How would a magazine limit affect that outcome?

  21. avatar Tuck says:

    I have two words for any prosecutor looking at a case of magazine capacity: Jury Nullification

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