Home To Roost: The Boulder Shooter’s High Capacity Magazine

UPDATE #2: For emphasis, remember this NBC News story from 2013:

“I’m telling you right now: I will not obey this law,” declared Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, of the bill limiting magazine sizes. “I will willfully and purposefully and civilly disobey this law.” [Pols emphasis]

There’s no claiming innocence today, folks. There were deliberate choices.


UPDATE: Boulder DA Michael Dougherty says the Boulder shooter had ten high capacity magazines. It’s still unknown as of this writing where the shooter bought them, but high capacity magazines are widely available in Colorado despite the 2013 ban (see below).


2013 advertisement for Magpul’s “Boulder Airlift” giveaway of high capacity magazines in protest of Colorado’s then-new mag limit law.

Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry reports on dozens of new charges filed against the 22 year old Arvada resident suspected of carrying out the mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers in March that killed ten people including a responding Boulder police officer:

Boulder prosecutors have added 44 additional criminal charges against the man accused of killing 10 people in a Boulder grocery store — including 20 attempted murder charges for other victims who were in the parking lot and inside the store and several charges alleging the gunman had an illegally sized ammunition magazine…

An additional 19 people were named as victims in the new charges — including 11 responding police officers and sheriff’s deputies who engaged in a firefight with the gunman inside the store.

Prosecutors also added 10 additional charges alleging the gunman possessed an illegally large gun magazine, and used it in the fatal shootings. In Colorado, it is a crime to own or use magazines that hold more than 15 rounds — anything larger than that is considered a “large-capacity” magazine, which was banned by state lawmakers.

The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul answers the question you may now be asking–if high capacity magazines are illegal in Colorado, how did the Boulder shooter get one?

The alleged gunman was already facing 10 first-degree murder counts in connection with the shooting. Authorities say he used a high-powered AR-556 pistol that he had purchased legally.

Colorado lawmakers in 2013 banned gun magazines that hold more than 15 rounds in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting. They are still readily available, however, at Colorado gun stores. [Pols emphasis]

As 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger discovered in an in-depth November 2019 report on the issue and we’ve discussed at length in this space, high capacity gun magazines are commonly available in Colorado gun stores despite the 2013 ban on the sale of magazines with a capacity greater than fifteen rounds. As Zelinger discovered by visiting gun shops across the state, high capacity magazines are sold one of two ways: as a “repair kit” containing all the parts to a high capacity magazine that snaps together in seconds, or the gun store simply does not fear prosecution by their local elected sheriff and openly sells ready-to-use high capacity magazines in straight-up middle finger defiance of the statewide ban.

The 2013 15-round magazine limit was by far the most contentious of the gun safety bills passed that year, but it was passed based on very recent and painful experience from the 2012 Aurora theater shooting and the school shooting that December in Newtown, Connecticut–in which high-capacity magazines and AR-15 semiautomatic weapons gave the shooters the ability to kill far more people without having to pause. In Aurora, the shooter fired over sixty shots from his drum-equipped rifle into the theater audience before it mercifully jammed. At Newtown, a pause variously attributed to reloading or the weapon jamming allowed numerous children to escape.

On March 22, a single shooter using an “AR pistol” weapon ideal for killing people in close quarters like shopping aisles killed ten people in Boulder, some of them shot numerous times. And now we know the shooter’s weapon had a high capacity magazine that somebody sold him in either evasion or defiance of Colorado law.

We’ve applauded Colorado’s continuing leadership on gun safety legislation since 2013’s hard-won landmark reforms, including the 2019 “red flag” law and this year’s common-sense legislation to require guns be safely stored and reported when lost or stolen. But if we’re just going to let gun stores ignore a law on the books that could have saved lives in Boulder, and for that matter in Aurora in 2012…what kind of message does that send? “Enforce the laws on the books,” after all, is one of the most common rallying cries of the gun lobby.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Close the “parts kit” loophole, enhance the penalties, use state resources to prosecute gun dealers if the sheriffs refuse to do their jobs. This outrageous noncompliance with existing law is a direct threat to the credibility of any new gun laws and must be addressed. It’s ridiculous to suggest that we’re powerless as a society to make this small reduction in the ability for one deranged person to inflict disproportionate carnage.

And in the meantime, stop calling the gun lobby “law-abiding.” On this issue, they’re anything but.

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    You'll never understand that the problem is not with the piece of plastic with a spring inside, it's the evil in the hearts of men. You'll never understand that because the left has no moral foundations.

    If you don't accept that, accept this: you'll never stop Coloradans from buying magazines in Wyoming any more than you can stop people from Wyoming from buying marijuana in Colorado.

    Make God the center of your life and you'll discover the only laws you need to follow are within.

    • MattC says:

      "… the only laws you need to follow are within."


      Anarchy is the answer? No human made laws at all, is that it?
      No thank you.

      You can and should go live someplace where the only laws anyone follows are within.

      Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Venzuela and a host of others come to mind. Bring cash and a bible and get ready to realize the hearts of men without laws will take. Sure, say it from the safety of a nation prepared to defend you and your rights with a system of law based at least in large part on a human defined standard of justice.

      Comments like yours bring out the Colonel Jessup in me. ".. you have no idea how to defend a nation." 

    • JohnInDenver says:

      I'm curious, Moderatus.  What description of "God the center of your life" are you relying on, and how do you know there is a Divine right to high capacity magazines (and the weapons they are designed for)?    And does that same Divine right extend to other weapons with added destructive capabilities?

    • unnamed says:

      Nutlid, you are, again, an idiot.

      I have seen enough of your posts to know that there is plenty of evil in your heart, even though you virtue signal about "Making God the center of your life".  I've seen enough of you to know that I want nothing to do with your false morality.

      Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

                                                                    -Matthew 7:15-20


      Like a certain false prophet you have sworn allegiance to.  BTW, how's his second term going?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Has anyone told your mommy how much valuable computer time you’re inanely pissing away on this site, when you’re supposed to be — commanded to be, I imagine — busy centering your life on adding likes to Q-bie’s twitterings??

      But, good to know that god isn’t on board with high-capacity magazines . . .

      . . . she might even support safe storage to help protect the lives of her innocent little children?

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      Which "god" is that? The Hindus have millions of gods in their pantheon.

      What if I don't want your "god" as the center of my life?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      . . . and you’ll discover the only laws you need to follow are within.

      I’ll bet god really wishes you’d been around earlier, you could have saved her eons of wasted time coming up with, and carving into stone, all those OT laws and commandments?

    • spaceman2021 says:

      Nah, I'll be a rational human being and recognize that guns kill, that people use guns to kill, and that there is no god.  So I'll keep saying that the guns are the problem because they fucking are. 

  2. notaskinnycook says:

    "They are still readily available, however, at Colorado gun stores." If you can't own them, how come they can still sell them? Methinks the law needs an addendum.

  3. MattC says:


    The so called law abiding gun community, including me, is not exactly all that law abiding. Sometimes actual laws need to be bent or modified in practice.

    Take speed limits. Like most Colorado drivers, apparently, I consider them to be advisory. However, unlike many Colorado drivers I do not text and drive, I only talk on the phone hands free and I follow the law about DUI/DWI as if lives depend on it. (Because they do.)

    When a local sheriff decides which laws to enforce and which to ignore, and especially when the sheriff announces the latter publicly, Democracy has failed.

    I am not clear how policy and legislation should address the right to bear arms to preserve the right to life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness. Other countries seem to have done a better job, and while I recognize we cannot follow another country, ever, for any reason, it seems like we could do better.

    Which seems to also be true for other issues like immigration, infrastructure and military spending.


  4. 2Jung2Die says:

    If we know evil lies in the hearts of men, why not regulate domestic firepower with which evil minds can plot destruction? Even Trump supported a bump stock ban, and what is a bump stock physically but an attachment?

  5. Peromyscus says:

    Could I make God the “left of center” of my heart?  Would that work?

    Second question:  do those magazines have part numbers that could be tracked to the store where the shooter bought them?  If so, I hope they prosecute the hell out of those particular merchants of death.  

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Maybe all those god-fearing gun stores could help by handing out Bibles instead, to everyone who asks to buy an illegal magazine?

      No law needed, it’s just the good in their hearts . . .

    • MattC says:

      I may be cynical, but I predict more change to limit the availability and illegal sale when a manufacturer or distributor is held liable in  civil action with large dollar consequence.

      I mean prosecution is one thing. Writing checks and turning over bitcoin is a whole other thing.

  6. NOV GOP meltdown says:

    Even though they work in almost every other country in the world except the USA, gun control laws will merely make it much harder for mass shootings to occur here, instead of preventing any at all from happening.

    So, these laws are imperfect and therefore we just can't have them, so lets just do nothing and continue the horrific carnage.

    Yeah, sounds about right. Oh, and Jesus, freedom and all that other shit…

  7. Early Worm says:

    I would be very nervous if I were a Colorado gun dealer and I sold this murderer (or his supplier) one or more of these illegal magazines. It is a very simple case of negligence per se – a defendant's actions are presumed to be negligent if their conduct violated the law. Open your wallets, notify your insurance carriers, and contact a bankruptcy lawyer. Civil disobedience is all fun and games until someone (or 10) gets murdered in the grocery store. 

  8. Negev says:

    Let me see if I have this straight:

    Make a law that bans magazines by date of manufacture when most magazines do not have a manfactured date. 
    Grandfather tens of millions of magazines 
    Exempt the persons responsible for enforcing the restriction
    Allow unrestricted access to dealers to buy and ship out of state
    Permit replacement parts for legally owned magazines
    Have no ability to track
    Put the burden of proof on the prosecution

    Seriously, what could possibly go wrong? 

    Hopefully this fanatic mass shooter will live long enough to serve his penalty for use of these magazines, but I am a bit sceptical he will survive 10 life sentences for murder  + 320 years in attempted murder charges to do his mag ban time. But it is indeed a additional charge worthy of comment. 

    It's common sense gun laws like this that keep the population safe.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      You’re not wrong . . .

      . . . it’s almost as though there were groups working with opposition legislators against the legislation at the time to make sure that if any law was somehow passed, that it would be utterly unenforceable?

      Good thing I’m not a conspiracy theorist . . .

      (PS — you forgot: Foolishly rely upon any inclination or likelihood from “responsible” and “law-abiding” gun owners, manufacturers, and sellers to ever follow the law.)

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Per your update: Brophy has said a lot of crazy shit over the year, including his rabid anti-renewables position. Let’s not forget his valiant efforts to recall Evie Hudak and John Morse, two fine legislators. Now he’s making a living as an Xcel Energy consultant working with rural county commissioners to establish new transmission lines so we can declare another war invest billions more into the economies of  Dumphuckistan.  You couldn’t make this stuff up.

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