BREAKING: Sky Will NOT Fall When Magazine Bill Takes Effect

Late this afternoon, the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers released a long-awaited technical guidance letter prepared for the Department of Public Safety on the implementation of House Bill 1224, the magazine limit bill. This technical guidance was requested by Gov. John Hickenlooper at the signing of HB-1224 into law, following the many objections raised by opponents of the legislation that the bill would "ban all magazines," or at least all magazines "with a removable baseplate" or other design feature that could hypothetically allow them to be expanded beyond the legal maximum of 15 rounds.

As we have reassured our readers over and over, but unfortunately local media has failed to clarify for an anxious and misinformed public–even helping spread baseless speculation–that is not going to happen.

Definition of "Large Capacity Magazine"

Under House Bill 1224, the term "large capacity magazine" is defined, in part, as follows: "a fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip, or similar device capable of accepting, or that is designed to be readily converted to accept, more than fifteen rounds of ammunition."

The phrase "designed to be readily converted to accept more than fifteen rounds of ammunition" has prompted questions regarding the scope of the definition, particularly because some ammunition magazines include features, such as removable baseplates, that can be removed and replaced, or otherwise altered, so that the magazine accepts more than fifteen rounds.

The term "designed," when used as a modifier, denotes a feature that meets a specific function. This suggests that design features that fulfill more than one function, and whose function is not specifically to increase the capacity of a magazine, do not fall under the definition. The features of a magazine must be judged objectively to determine whether they were "designed to be readily converted to accept more than fifteen rounds."

Under this reading of the definition, a magazine that accepts fifteen or fewer rounds is not a "large capacity magazine" simply because it includes a removable baseplate which may be replaced with one that allows the magazine to accept additional rounds. [Pols emphasis] On many magazines, that design feature is included specifically to permit cleaning and maintenance. Of course, a magazine whose baseplate is replaced with one that does, in fact, allow the magazine to accept more than fifteen rounds would be a "large capacity magazine" under House Bill 1224.

Here's the full text of the memo, which also explains the meaning of the "continuous possession" language in the bill–and again, the plain interpretation of the bill does not lead to the wild unforeseen consequences Republican opponents insisted would be the result. With both of these provisions but particularly the language on whether magazines were "designed to be readily converted," it is obvious now that opponents like Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute were not telling the truth when they claimed that House Bill 1224 would mean "almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again." It means that every reporter who uncritically reprinted this lie now needs to write another story explaining how that wasn't true.

And folks, we're not going to forget this. The amount of misinformation spread about this legislation by opponents, and too often subsidized by reporters dismayingly willing to trade long-term credibility for short-term scoops, was totally unacceptable and needs to be called out. A lowly political blog should not be the only media source telling the public the truth about this bill, but that really does seem to be what happened in this case.

The people of Colorado deserved better. And we hope they finally get it now.

35 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MADCO says:

    Just to be clear – this law effectively bans all gun ownership in Colorado, right?

  2. bullshit! says:

    Holy shit, that's one hell of a Friday news dump! I'm sure Suthers hated doing this to his fellow GOPers.

    And yeah, a lotta reporters who need to start doing their FUCKING JOBS instead of stenographing Jon Caldara's bullshit. It's not enough to report about this memo, which I wonder if they'll even do. The people of Colorado deserve to know a terrible injustice has been done. They've been lied to.

  3. JeffcoBlue says:

    Yeah, Caldara lied. But Kyle Clark of 9NEWS and Ryan Johnson of the Denver Post helped him.

    At long last, have they no shame?

  4. Moderatus says:

    So what? A minor point. This is about the Second Amendment, not baseplates.

    • Duke Cox says:


      This is about the Second Amendment,

      horse pucky…this is no more about the Second Amendment than it is about my grandmas' fancy underpants. This is about profits for gun manufacturers and paranoid psychotics…plain and simple.

      • Moderatus says:

        Is that what you have to say to the wheelchair-bound plaintiff who wants to have an equal chance to defend himself?

        All I'm saying is this is more than just baseplates on magazines. There are fundamental Second Amendment issues at stake.

        • Curmudgeon says:

          What about the law(s) will prevent the wheelchair-bound plaintiff from defending himself? Can he not pass a background check? Is he unable to handle a weapon unless the magazine holds more than a 15 rounds?

        • Gray in Mountains says:

          what about a blind guy? How is he to defend himself without …?

        • Duke Cox says:

          Well, Moderatus. I am a brain-dead liberal who has a hard time understanding such constitutional nuance. Please state your issues once more…slowly, clearly, and in simple terms. Explain to me how not having a thirty round capacity magazine prevents me, or any other human being, from killing you with a Colt 45. 

          Is it that only the number of rounds at your diposal is relevant?


        • gaf says:

          There are fundamental Second Amendment issues at stake.

          Starting with that "well regulated militia"? Or are you ignoring that part?


    • BlueCat says:

      And the courts, not Sheriffs, get to decide whether or not laws are constitutional and therefore whether or not they violate our rights.  Since the courts, all the way up to and including the Supremes, have long recognized various regulations in connection with firearms,  second amendment  rights being no more or less absolute than other constitutional rights, all of which are subject to limits ( see yelling fire in a crowded theater etc.) it's highly unlikely that the new Colorado laws will be found unconstitutional.

      Unless and until the laws are declared unconstitutional by our judicial branch, the only entity empowered to make that decision, the Sheriff's' arguments for non-enforcement, absent any court ordered stay until the matter is resolved,  would appear to put them on pretty shaky ground in terms of refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the laws and act accordingly in the course of their duties.

  5. ClubTwitty says:

    I heard that nail guns killed more people in Hot Sulfur Springs than pistols. 

  6. dwyer says:

    Does anyone know why this memo was released AFTER the Kopel suit had been filed?  Would it have made any difference in the suit if the memo could have been cited?


    i welcome the constitutional test.  It is exactly how propaganda and false fears should be addressed

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      Would it have made in difference in the suit?

      You're joking, right? The only thing that would stop this suit is if Caldara can't raise any more money off it. And that's not happening.

      • dwyer says:

        No, I am not joking.  I didn't make myself clear.  I didn't think that the lawsuit would not have been filed. But, one of the points in the suit was that the provisions on magazines was vague.  The Memo clarified those provisions.  So if Kopel had had that information prior to filing, he would have had the opportunity to read it and critique it and included that information in the suit.  I think the timing of the memo release gives the state an advantage in defending the law.  So, why didn't Suthers release the memo earlier?   I am just asking questions that occur from the timeline,

        I don't have answers.


  7. Gray in Mountains says:

    BTW One of the sherrif talking points, re why they oppose these laws and Police Chiefs largely favor the is that Sherrif is elected and therefore independent while Chiefs are only allowed to say what their City Council's allow. At least thats what my dumbass Sherrif says

    • BlueCat says:

      Even if that's true,  aren't the City Councils elected?  So what he's saying is that he has to represent the people who elected him while Chiefs have to represent the people's will as expressed through their legitimately elected representatives on the City Council..

      Isn't it ironic that the representaive form of government Republicans seem to hate so much is the form from which they take their name…  a republic?

  8. poisonvamp says:

    The technically guidance is all fine and dandy, however it does start out with "Although this guidance is not binding in court…". Meaning the Attorney General can say what he wants but any cop can still arrest you for violating the provisions he "clarified". The courts will ultimately decide how to interpret these poorly written laws.

    • JeffcoBlue says:

      Wrong, you paranoid dumbfuck. Suthers, a Republican, is restating the clear language as best he can so you paranoid dumbfucks will take a pill and stop imagining that Hillary Clinton will be at your door with stormtroopers on July 1.

      But because you are a paranoid dumbfuck, nothing will convince you anyway, so I don't see why he bothered. Oh yeah, IT'S HIS JOB.

      I'm so tired of this shit.

  9. ArapaGOP says:

    If it's so clear, why did Suthers need to provide this guidance at all? Why can't Democrats just admit this law was poorly written?

    • Curmudgeon says:

      The guidance was needed because certain uninformed (or dishonest) NRA stooges were screeching about how "every weapon could be considered illegal" and other horse hockey.

      The law wasn't poorly written. You and your cronies were just too stupid to understand it, or too dishonest to admit you did.

    • ClubTwitty says:

      Uhhh, because he's the state's Attorney General?  I am pretty sure that is one things Attorneys General do.  Its in the job description. 

      Kind of like…

      What is Guppy here posting stupid comments and questions? 

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