At first glance, Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper’s signing statement from yesterday’s gun control bill signing seemed odd, but perhaps Queen of Colorado Political Media, the Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels, hit the nail on the head when she tweeted the following:
— Lynn Bartels (@lynn_bartels) March 21, 2013
First, the statement starts out with a mea culpa and some backpedaling:
“In signing HB13-1224, we acknowledge that some have expressed concerns about the vagueness of the law’s definition of “large-capacity magazine.” By its terms, the law does make illegal any magazine manufactured or purchased after July 1, 2013, that is capable of accepting, or is designed to be readily converted to accept, more that 15 rounds of ammunition. Similar language is used in other states’ statutes limiting large-capacity magazines.”
Translation: Other states do it, we’re really not the bad guy here. Well, except that Colorado isn’t New York, and the state’s needs are different here.
Then, there was the most puzzling part, as noted by Bartels, the lengthy explanation of how this bill was supposed to be interpreted by the court.
“We also have heard concerns about the requirement in the law that a person who owns a large-capacity magazine prior to the law’s enactment may legally possess that magazine only as long as he or she “maintains continuous possession” of it. We do not believe a reasonable interpretation of the law means that a person must maintain continuous “physical” possession of these items. Responsible maintenance and handling of magazines obviously contemplates that gun owners may allow others to physically hold and handle them under appropriate circumstances. We are confident that law enforcement and the courts will interpret the statute so as to effectuate the lawful use and care of these devices.”
While we certainly hope that the courts interpret this law to account for temporary physical possession changes with as much leeway as possible, the fact remains that it’s not the Governor’s job to tell the courts how to rule. If he wanted the bill to be interpreted this way, he should have driven this legislation so that it actually read that way.
Again, we have to ask, who’s in charge in the State of Colorado?