Eagle, Gypsum gun shop owners worry about impact of possible gun legislation
Posssible new state gun bills worry local shop owners
Steven Grindel is worried for his business.
Grindel is the owner of Alpine Arms, a firearms shop in Eagle. Grindel is particularly worried about a bill, yet to be introduced, that’s been billed as a ban on “assault weapons.” Those rifles are also referred to as “modern sporting rifles,” and are among the best-selling in the U.S.
The Colorado Legislature could be asked to consider more than a dozen gun-control bills.
Here are four of those possible bills — six of which have been formally introduced — as compiled by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. That organization opposes all but a small handful of those proposed bills.
- An “assault weapons” ban. The bill is expected to be introduced soon.
- Requiring a background check on ammunition purchases.
- HB23-1165 would allow county officials and special districts to prohibit shooting on private property.
- Another proposal would raise the age to purchase or possess rifles or shotguns. The current minimum age is 18.
Matt Bergstresser, owner of Windage Weaponry in Gypsum, said his impression is that legislators are “trying to get rid of” AR-15-style rifles.
Both Grindel and Bergstresser are most concerned about other elements of the possible legislation.
Grindel said he’s seen possible bill variations that would essentially ban “anything with a magazine.” That includes many, if not most, pistols, rifles and shotguns for sale today.
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A bill like that would “more than likely get rid of the entire (firearms) industry in the state,” Grindel said. That means the potential loss of “thousands of jobs and millions in revenue,” he said.
Bergstresser said “I don’t see how” the assault weapons bill could make it through the legislature.
Following the passage of several gun-control bills in the 2013 legislature, Colorado-based Magpul Industries, which manufactures accessories including ammunition magazines, moved to Wyoming and Texas. The move took about 200 jobs with it.
State Senator Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat, said he won’t be a sponsor of any of this session’s possible bills. In fact, he said, he’s “just observing” the assault weapons bill, which could be introduced as soon as next week.
Plenty of passion
Roberts said he’s heard from a lot of constituents in his 10-county district. Those comments have been on both sides of the issue.
“Folks are very passionate on both sides,” Roberts said. “There are folks who believe they have a right to own firearms of any kind, and there are folks terrified of the next mass shooting. There are valid concerns on both sides.”
Before holding elective office, Roberts for five years was a prosecutor in the 5th Judicial District. In that job, Roberts said most of the gun-related cases he saw involved firearms possession by a previous offender or people found with guns who were ineligible to possess them.
Roberts said as both an attorney and an elected official, “I take seriously the Second Amendment.”
That amendment states, in full, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
That amendment has been the subject of various interpretations over the years.
But Section 13 of the Colorado Constitution is more straightforward, stating, “The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.”
Roberts noted that the “assault weapons” bill is one of several likely to come before the legislature in this session.
One of those would expand the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, also called the “red flag” law. That law currently allows close family members or law enforcement officers to petition a judge take firearms from someone deemed a threat to themself or others.
Roberts said the law could be expanded to allow district attorneys to ask judges for those orders.
Another bill could mandate a waiting period between purchasing and taking delivery of firearms. Another would raise the minimum age of purchase to 21 for rifles and shotguns. Those firearms now can be purchased by those 18 and older.
In Grindel’s view, many gun-control laws affect the law-abiding more than criminals.
“Bad people will do bad things no matter what,” Grindel said.
And, Grindel noted, law-abiding people are buying a lot of guns. In addition, Alpine Arms’ classes for those seeking concealed carry permits have been “really popular the last couple of years.”