Let No Facts Stand In The Way Of Rage

A brief roundup of reporting on the release late Friday by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers of long-awaited technical guidance for law enforcement on the implementation of House Bill 1224, the bill limiting gun magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Suthers' release of this guidance, which lays out the plain language of House Bill 1224 and seeks to dispel a huge amount of unfounded speculation and misinterpretations of the new law, came on the same day that a majority of Colorado county sheriffs held a press conference with Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute announcing their lawsuit to overturn both House Bill 1224 and the universal background checks bill, House Bill 1229.

Apparently, the sheriffs were a lot more interesting to the media.

Hypothetically, Suthers' technical guidance should take some of the wind out of the sails of opponents–and least those motivated by specious, even irrational interpretations of the bill's language. As the scant press coverage that actually mentions Suthers' memo from the weekend indicates, though, it didn't even slow them down.

7NEWS' Alan Gathright appears to have done the best job explaining what the AG's guidance means:

Some concerns about the law prohibiting the sale, transfer and possessing of large-capacity ammunition magazines might be eased by a legal opinion released Friday by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Department of Public Safety Executive Director James Davis. Gov. John Hickenlooper instructed the officials to provide the technical guidance on how law enforcement agencies should interpret and enforce the law. 

Just because a magazine has a "removable baseplate" does not mean it falls under the law's definition of a large-capacity magazine "designed to be readily converted to accept more than 15 rounds of ammunition," the guidance says. "

On many magazines, that [removable baseplate] design feature is included to specifically to permit cleaning and maintenance," the opinion says. "Of course, a magazine whose baseplate is replaced with one that does, in fact, allow the magazine to accept more than 15 rounds would be a 'large-capacity magazine' under House Bill 1224."

So, just having a magazine with the potential to be expanded to hold more than 15 rounds isn't deemed a violation of the law. [Pols emphasis]

The Durango Herald's Joe Hanel reports, if that's a problem for your outrage, the answer is simple: just ignore it. 

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers sent a “guidance” to police around the state Friday about how the law should be enforced. The memo says a magazine shouldn’t be treated as high-capacity simply because it has a removable baseplate.

However, plaintiffs said such guidance is legally meaningless, and they want the law overturned. [Pols emphasis]

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman wrote a story Friday about Suthers' memo that both explains its meaning pretty well, and helps one understand why the local media has gotten, and continues to get, this story so very wrong.

A broad interpretation [Pols emphasis] of the bill's language banning magazines that are "designed to be readily converted to accept, more than fifteen rounds" could mean that any magazine with a removable base plate would be banned because extenders can be used on some models to increase capacity…

David Kopel, the lawyer suing the state over HB-1224, says the technical guidance does not change the suit because the guidance can always be changed and constitutional concerns remain over having vague language on the books.

He did concede that the court may decide to adopt the guidance or set down other clarifications of the law in its ruling. [Pols emphasis]

Bottom line: a "broad interpretation" of just about any law could lead to ridiculous and unworkable "unintended consequences." In situations where a law is not controversial, this is not a problem, as no responsible person in charge of implementing said law would ever interpret the law that, you know, stupidly. But in the case of these gun safety bills, where opponents have freely employed total bullshit to frighten the public, it is entirely natural, even expected, that they will also insist on the most absurd, draconian interpretation of these laws imaginable–for as long as doing so has any political benefit.

In 2006, Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 41, an "ethics in government" measure that was bitterly opposed by elected officials and lobbyists. Persons with freebies and/or access to lose under Amendment 41 lurched from one crazy "unintended consequence" to another in an effort to scuttle the bill, and then to discredit it into meaninglessness after passage. Sob stories about children being denied scholarships and other untold heartbreak flooded an accommodating local press.

And then adults interpreted the bill like adults, and amazingly, none of that stuff happened.

In the case of House Bill 1224, it has always been our contention that the language in the legislation, "designed to be readily converted," correctly and precisely narrowed the scope of magazines that would be banned. We have always maintained, and still firmly believe, that no court will come to the nutty conclusions about the plain language in this bill that opponents imagine. We have watched this year as that language has been second-guessed and misinterpreted by opponents with an interest in raising alarm, grounded in fact or not–and uncritically repeated by local media who were apparently too busy making sure their hair was perfectly coiffed for their big story to look critically at the story.

At some point, the misinformation is going to end. The game will be up for those benefiting from lies, and some people in this town who call themselves "journalists" will, we sincerely hope, have some introspection awaiting them.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. BlueCat says:

    It's a trick! Benghazi! Obama is a foreigner! The UN is going to take away all our guns! The Sleeping Giant is going to eat the legislature for breakfast!  The Obama administration is buying up all the bullets so their won't be anything to put in the magazines anyway. Then they're going to abolish freedom and send us all to re-education camps and we'll all have to become Muslims and make gay marriages! The War on Christmas will end in victory for the anti-Santa! If I've missed anything I'm sure ArapGoof  and friends can fill us in.

    • The realist says:

      The Denver bicycles!  The dinosaurs are coming back!  Illegals are taking our jobs!  We can't pray in school!


    • ArapaGOP says:

      Actually, no. I'm not going to say any of that crazy stuff.

      If it's so simple and clear, why isn't that simple and clear in the bill? Why leave interpretation to chance with vague language?

      I don't want crazy answers. I just want answers. I'll have another answer for you on election day.

      • Curmudgeon says:

        Romney in a landslide?

      • ClubTwitty says:

        Agenda 21!  Zoning laws are the first step to the New World Order!  Dr. Suess' Lorax is a plot tto teach children about 'sustainability'!  Obama wants my guns so he can round us all up and put us in FEMA camps under SHARIA LAW! 

      • PolitiComm says:


        Frankly, I can't wait for Kopel to dash his reputation against the rocks in court. What is it they say? "If you don't know how to do something, teach." 

        Kopel should stick to running his mouth in a very safe and controlled classroom environment where his "theories" mean something. 

        • JeffcoBlue says:

          As long as the checks keep coming, Kopel's cred is fiiiiiine.

          So says Jon Caldara.

        • gaf says:

          Why the gratuitous bashing of those who teach? It has nothing to do with Kopel being a teacher. It has more to do with him being a lawyer. But it has everything to do with using scare tactics to advance his political agenda. Hit him on that.

          If you want to perpetuate the myth of your "those who teach" cliche, we can have that discussion (provide your evidence first, please, or withdraw the statement). But please don't use a throw-away line that disparages others in order to attack Kopel–there's plenty to work with on Kopel's own merits.

      • BlueCat says:

        Crazy stuff?  Don't let your peeps hear you call that stuff crazy. And there goes another black helicopter! Run-n-n-n-n!

        • ArapaGOP says:

          That's dumb. All Republicans are not crazy conspiracy theorists, just like all Democrats are not smelly pot smoking hippies. Vague language in legislation is a problem. So is violating Second Amendment rights, but the remedy for that is the ballot box if the court doesn't work.

          You can't have intelligent arguments. You have to make it all up.

          • Gray in Mountains says:

            pin worm


            Romney in a landslide!

          • ClubTwitty says:

            Actually, the Court is the final word.  Hate to break it to you, but voters can't change the court's interpretation of the 2nd amendment.  If you mean the Sleeping Giant Cake Walk with the Silent Majority, I have one question…when are you announcing the super-secret candidate that's going to change everything you were gloating about not-so-long-ago? 

          • Aristotle says:

            You can't have intelligent arguments.

            ROFLMAO…. This coming from the "UR LIBRUL" champ of Colorado Pols.

  2. Craig says:

    It's simple, ArapGoof.  Courts interpret statutes using the normal and usual meaning of words and the normal and usual interpretation of words.  You are not normal or usual and so you can't simply understand this.  Frankly, that's the problem with the whole "Republican" party today.  They think people care about these doomsday, idiotic, made up interpretations, not to mention the "scandals" that "Republicans" keep trying to sell.  Just not reasonable and rational, just like you, just like "Republicans" today.  People don't fall for your bullshit any more.  And, it's eating you up and you don't know how to stop.  Benghazi, where's that and what difference does it make now anyway?  IRS, well it's just a bunch or rich guys trying to get a tax break and hide their millions in expenditures which they are throwing down a rat hole.  And, besides, we believe what the president says anyway.  Getting reporters phone information?  Who gives a shit.  They took info from a guy who committed treason and should be punished and furthermore, reporters don't use sources anyway, they just make shit up and put it on some unnamed, high-ranking source.  They don't tell the truth, especially if their don't work for Faux News.  Get my drift?  No, I suppose not.

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