[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s basically a footnote to the report issued Monday by the Connecticut State Attorney’s office, but the 30-round magazines used in the Sandy Hook massacre — in which 26 people were killed, including 20 first-graders — were manufactured by Magpul Industries.
You may remember Magpul, the Erie gun manufacturer that threatened to leave Colorado if the legislature passed the 15-round magazine limit.
The bill passed, and Magpul is still here. The bill was signed into law, and Magpul is still here. Company executives say they’re still planning to leave, although they don’t say when or where. At last check, they haven’t gone anywhere.
It would be almost funny, except for all the tragedy involved.
And yet, the company execs have become heroes to people like would-be governor Greg Brophy, who poses on his campaign Website with the kind of gun used in the Aurora shooting. Magpul stood up for the right for Coloradans to own large-capacity magazines that can be used to kill many people in a short time. And for its brave stand, Magpul saw its sales skyrocket.
[pullquote]You may remember Magpul, the Erie gun manufacturer that threatened to leave Colorado if the legislature passed the 15-round magazine limit. The bill passed. Magpul’s still here. [/pullquote]
That says … something. I hate to even think what it says. Guns don’t kill people. Disturbed young men using particularly dangerous guns kill people. Maybe you see a relationship.
What we do know is that Brophy and Tancredo and Gessler and Kopp — the major Republican candidates in next year’s gubernatorial race — are all in favor of rolling back the magazine law because, they say, they believe in freedom. Or something.
I wonder if any of them will bother to read the report from Sandy Hook. I wonder if they could properly govern the state of Colorado without reading the report. When you read off the names of gun tragedies — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook — you know where Colorado figures into all this. And you know why the legislature passed its modest set of laws, the ones that set off the round of recalls that have cost two state senators their jobs and have another, Evie Hudak, under threat.
But before signing up for the Hudak recall — that is, if you you live in her district or if you’re the intrepid Jon Caldara — you might want to read at least some of the Sandy Hook report to grasp the numbing tragedy in the words.
The killer’s obsession with Columbine. His spreadsheet ranking of mass murders. The story he wrote in the fifth grade, “The Big Book of Granny,” which told of murdered kids and a son shooting his mother in the head. His apparent Asperger’s, a syndrome that rarely involves violence. His retreat from nearly everyone in the world. His bond with his mother over target shooting and guns.
The killer, Adam Lanza, went to Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 26 people with a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S semi-automatic rifle. He brought three other weapons with him. He left at home the Savage Mark II rifle he used to kill his mother. The guns were all legal. No one had ever apparently diagnosed him as dangerous.
The 44-page report said he used “a total of twenty-four rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition found, of which ten rounds were in one PMAG 30 magazine, thirteen rounds were in another such magazine and one live round was on the floor. There was a third empty PMAG 30 magazine seized. There were a total of eighty expended 5.56 mm casings seized from classroom 8.”
The report offered no motive for the killings. Who thought it would? All we knew was that after Sandy Hook, surely something had to happen. If you look at the statistics, the school massacres are only a small part of the gun-death problem in our country. But killing 20 6-year-olds will focus the mind.
Still, nothing happened in Congress, not even the most modest of laws. But something did happen in Colorado, where a law banned Magpul’s PMAG 30 magazine and all magazines over 15 rounds. Nothing has been the same in the Colorado political world since.
And now we can expect Republicans in the coming legislative session to introduce bills to repeal the laws. They won’t go anywhere, but they will keep the gun wars in the news.
Colorado made news with its laws first because it’s a Western state and because the Western attachment to guns is well known. And then came the recalls, which sent a warning to all legislators everywhere that any vote for gun safety is a dangerous vote.
And yet, in the much cited recent Quinnipiac poll – one, remember, that was basically all bad news for Democrats — Coloradans said they were opposed to the Colorado gun laws unless, it turns out, they were actually presented with the laws themselves. In which case 85 percent approved of universal background checks. In which case, half approved of magazine capacity limits.
I don’t think the fact that Magpul made the magazines used in Sandy Hook matters much to the debate — or should. Other companies make similar products. It wouldn’t even be brought up today if Magpul had not so publicly threatened to leave the state.
But if you want to consider Magpul, there is a pressing argument that can be made.
It came up during the Senate floor debate last March on magazine limits. The Denver Post reported that in defense of Magpul, Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, offered photographic evidence that, he said, “reveals members of SEAL Team 6 used Magpul magazines” in the killing of Osama Bin Laden. He said it to praise Magpul’s patriotic sensibilities.
I don’t know precisely which magazines Cadman was referring to. But what more, I wonder, could you say about whether they should be sold over the counter at your neighborhood Walmart?