When lawmakers ban a certain type of consumer product, it's going to affect not just those who want to buy it but also those who produce it. And yet when Democrats recently introduced a bill to ban the sale of high-capacity gun magazines in Colorado, they apparently forgot about the second half of that reality.
Now that they've amended the bill to accommodate manufacturers, Republicans are hammering them for hypocrisy. With reason, we'd argue.
We support limiting the size of gun magazines, too, and naturally aren't eager to see any job losses. But Democrats should have thought through the implications of their bill before it was written rather than have to scramble in an attempt to deal with the revelation that Colorado is a hub for the manufacture of magazines.
It turns out that the largest manufacturer, Magpul which makes many other products, too is threatening to pull out of the state if lawmakers proceed to ban magazines that carry more than 15 rounds. On Friday another company made a similar pledge to leave. If they do, hundreds of jobs and payrolls are on the line. So the bill sponsors wrote an amendment trying to ensure that manufacturers could stay put.
The amendment, said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, should make it "clear that manufacturers will be able to still sell and transfer these high-capacity magazines to individuals in other states, the U.S. military and law enforcement. We want them (manufacturers) to stay here in Colorado. It would be sad to see them leave."
After lively debate in the House Friday, the amendment was added to House Bill 1224 and then the entire measure approved.
But Republicans raised a fair question: If banning high-capacity magazines is really about public safety, why should Democrats bar Coloradans from buying them but meanwhile give their blessing to Coloradans who make the same objects for export to other states?
Surely those voting for the bill would favor other states and indeed Congress itself banning high-capacity magazines.
To be clear, we don't blame Democrats for trying to save valuable jobs. But are they inconsistent? Absolutely. Hypocritical? Perhaps that, too.
On the larger point, though, Democrats continue to have the stronger case. In Friday's debate on the overall bill, Republicans made good arguments about the various causes of violence, but they never refuted the fundamental point that a shooter intent on killing as many people as possible will be hampered if he has to change clips on a regular basis.
As Speaker Mark Ferrandino reminded his colleagues, mass murderer Jared Loughner was tackled by bystanders when trying to reload.
Let's limit the next Loughner to 15-round magazines. It won't stop the violence, we realize, but it could easily save lives.