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Gun-magazine firm threatens to flee Colorado if gun control law passes

March 04, 2013|By Shan Li
  • Newly packaged 30-round-capacity ammunition magazines for high-velocity rifles await shipment from the Magpul Industries plant in Erie, Colo. Magpul's chief executive, Richard Fitzpatrick, has threatened to pull his company out of Colorado should state lawmakers pass a bill restricting the size of ammunition magazines.
Newly packaged 30-round-capacity ammunition magazines for high-velocity… (Brennan Linsley / Associated…)

A Colorado manufacturer of high-capacity ammunition magazines stepped into the raging debate over gun control by throwing down an ultimatum: If state lawmakers pass a bill restricting the size of magazines, the business will move elsewhere.

Magpul Industries has firmly planted itself against state Democrats who are looking to tighten control over firearms after mass shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and another at a Connecticut elementary school.

It's a highly visible step for a company that has flown under the radar, admits Magpul's founder and chief executive, Richard Fitzpatrick.

"The people who wrote the bill didn't even know we existed in the state," he told the Associated Press.

Fitzpatrick, a former Marine who founded the company in 1999, also said Magpul would stop selling gun magazines to law enforcement officials until a system could be implemented where officers must swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution -- "specifically the 2nd and 14th amendments -- as it applies to all citizens."

"I do not support the idea that individual police officers should be punished for the actions of their elected officials," Fitzpatrick wrote in a blog post on the Magpul website. "That said, I understand the concerns that some have with law enforcement officers getting special treatment while at the same time denouncing 2nd Amendment rights to another citizen in the same state."

Magpul's decision sets up another stumbling block as Colorado lawmakers consider what measures to take to prevent shooting massacres, a debate that is now echoing around the country as gun advocates and gun-control proponents joust over firearms restrictions.

In Colorado, an array of proposals is being pushed by Democrats. Those include universal background checks and banning magazines that carry more than 15 rounds.

Magpul said it will spend an estimated $85 million in Colorado next year in business deals with suppliers and service providers. Those are millions that states such as Texas are eager to woo. Fitzpatrick said several states have already reached out and offered to pay his costs to move from Colorado.

"It's not so much, 'Oh these people are making something that's going to cost Colorado lives.' " Fitzpatrick told the Associated Press. "We truly believe this bill will do nothing. It's a feel-good measure."

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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