Several new gun-control laws took effect Monday in Colorado, but not before Second Amendment enthusiasts had a chance to obtain huge stockpiles of ammunition and work to recall some of the Democrat lawmakers who passed the measures.
On Saturday, an estimated 5,000 self-described patriots descended on Infinity Park in Glendale to take part in the Farewell to Arms Freedom Festival, where thousands of 30-round Magpul Industries ammo magazines that are now are illegal in Colorado were passed out for free and sold at discounted rates to the crowd.
The event marked residents’ last chance “to celebrate the ability to own standard capacity magazines prior to new Colorado laws taking effect on July 1st,” organizers said.
Many who gathered at the event waited several hours for the ammo, nevertheless they were upbeat and friendly and largely calm – even as a helicopter carrying the stockpile landed at the park, observers said.
“There was no mad rush, cussing, it was really a festive mood,” said Joshua Hursa, president of the Denver Metro Young Republicans and volunteer with Free Colorado, which organized the event.
“People were energized and understood that this event was about raising money for the fight for their gun rights, and the Sen. Morse recall and Sen. Giron recall,” he said.
Democrat Sens. Angela Giron and John Morse have been targeted in recall campaigns for their prominent roles to pass measures that limit magazines to 15 bullets and that created background checks for private gun sales, among other restrictions.
The laws were passed despite large-scale opposition from many Colorado residents.
Saturday’s park festival was, in effect, a nose-thumbing at the new laws and the legislators who passed them, with the first 1,500 magazines doled out free and specially customized with the words “Free Colorado” or the Magpul’s Boulder Air Lift design on them.
Organizers of Free Colorado, a nonprofit that advocates for firearms rights, said attendees also purchased magazines in bulk, with up to 70 magazines sold to some individuals.
Various products sold at the event were donated to Free Colorado by Magpul, and proceeds will be spent on defending Second Amendment rights in Colorado, organizers said.
The group’s mission statement reads: “Engaging in targeted actions to reverse Colorado laws that imperil the rights of law-abiding firearm owners; and ensuring that no other state passes such reckless government regulation.”
Women for Concealed Carry, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting women’s rights to defend themselves and their children, also sent volunteers to help pass out magazines.
Katherine Whitney, the group’s executive director and a University of Colorado law school student, said those at the park largely felt excited and disappointed at the same time, calling it a “bittersweet” event because of the new gun laws.
In addition to law enforcement and liberty-minded groups, Women for Concealed Carry is a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new laws.
Whitney called the laws vague, unenforceable and unconstitutional.
Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy, one of the speakers at the rally, said attendees and Magpul showed courage for standing up for their constitutional rights in the face of political correctness run amok.
“Magpul stood up, and that takes a lot of guts,” he said. “Same with the people who showed up.”
Sen. Brophy also said Colorado has a governor who does not listen to its citizens.
“I had a meeting with (Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper) on how divisive these bills would be. He didn’t take that advice,” Sen. Borphy said. “The only call the governor took was from the mayor of New York.”
Organizers said the rally appeared to energize Colorado citizens to push harder on recall efforts and elect a new governor and legislative members come 2014. Hursa said the crowd was bipartisan.
“There were definitely Democrats there,” he said. “Second Amendment rights bridge party lines.”
But the effects of the new gun-control laws may have already made their mark.
Richard Fitzpatrick, founder and president of the Colorado-based Magpul Industries, had announced earlier this year that his company will no longer be able to continue to do business in the state if his core product – 30-round magazines – was made illegal.
“Our company could not, in good conscience, continue to manufacture our products in a state where law-abiding citizens are prohibited from purchasing and owning them,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “The passage of this bill will do nothing to enhance public safety, but will force us to immediately begin taking our business to another state.”
Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at CU Boulder.
IMAGE: Magpul Industries Facebook page screenshot