Throughout the long debate in the Colorado General Assembly, now winding down, over gun safety legislation that became a priority after mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and elsewhere last year, we have attempted to identify and debunk objectively untruthful, or at least widly exaggerated claims made by opponents of these bills. Examples include the false contention by the National Rifle Association and GOP legislators that universal background check legislation would "prohibit the private transfer of firearms," the false suggestion by the NRA's president that his organization supported post-Columbine reforms like closing the gun show loophole (they did not)–and the most recent false but widely-disseminated Jon Caldara allegation that "almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again."
Today, a major factual error in a Denver Post story about questions in the aftermath of the signing of House Bill 1224 limiting magazine capacity obliges us to clear up another significant point of misinformation. Reporter Ryan Parker, in an interview with Richard Taylor of the Aurora gun dealer The Firing Line, writes:
The interpretation of the magazine limit law includes any unit that can be converted to hold more than 15 rounds, and with almost every single magazine and clip in production today made with a removable base plate, technically allowing for extensions, Taylor said his days of selling those are in question.
Whose "interpretation?" What you see here is a summarized version of a pro-gun argument against House Bill 1224. As we have discussed in this space, the contention that House Bill 1224 could "ban all magazines" is a line that has been used to terrify gun owners into irrational opposition to these bills. This is the underlying support for Jon Caldara's claims that "almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again."
Everyone, especially Ryan Parker of the Denver Post, please pay attention: there is no truth to what you are claiming. You are misinforming the public, contributing to irrational public anger, and it must stop.
This is the text of House Bill 1224 as signed by Gov. Hickenlooper Wednesday. As you can plainly read, the law does not outlaw "any unit that can be converted to hold more than 15 rounds," as Parker's story says. The law applies to only magazines that are "designed to be readily converted to accept" more than 15 rounds.
The actual language of House Bill 1224, specifying that the magazine must be "designed" to be converted to hold more than 15 rounds, means that it does not matter if "almost every single magazine and clip in production today made with a removable base plate." That does not ipso facto mean they were designed to be expanded beyond 15 rounds. There is no realistic chance that the Department of Public Safety's technical guidance to law enforcement on this law, due out before it takes effect, is going to interpret this language in the way Parker suggests. If they did, we would cry foul alongside Dudley Brown–but it's not going to happen. We understand that this over-the-top claim was really great for helping churn out angry mobs at the Capitol, and for raising funds for groups like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. We would expect that Franklin Sain, the man now up on charges for threatening HB-1224's sponsor Rep. Rhonda Fields, believed this lie too.
Folks, it's time for these lies to stop. And it is definitely time for journalists to stop repeating them.