DENVER–The gun bills passed by the state legislature this year have picked off another company: Great American Pawn in Fountain, which closes its doors for good on Friday.
Owner Thomas Gautreaux said he believes the pawn shop, which deals heavily in firearms and ammunition, would lose sales after a bill restricting magazine capacity to 15 rounds goes into effect July 1.
Rather than string out the inevitable, he said, “I’m getting out while the getting’s good.”
“We’re located in a military community,” said Gautreaux in a telephone interview. “I can’t take in magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, so I won’t be able to take in those guns, either.”
He said his customers have asked him to remain open, but that he’s concerned about the state legislature’s direction on regulations governing business and firearms.
“Democrats have control over the governor, the House and the Senate,” said Gautreaux. “It’s not so much fear of what’s going on as it is fear of what’s going to happen.”
The closure of his four-year-old shop comes as the latest business casualty of the state legislature’s push to restrict access to firearms in reaction to two mass shootings in 2012.
At least two manufacturers, HiViz Shooting Sights and Magpul Industries, have announced they will relocate as a result of the passage of three gun-control measures in March. HiViz is moving to Laramie, Wyo., while officials at Magpul are still deciding on a destination.
“We haven’t made a firm decision one way or another,” said Magpul spokesman Duane Liptak. “We’re still in negotiations with the last few locations. We’re hoping to make an announcement soon, but we don’t want to speak prematurely to make sure we don’t damage the effort.”
Laura Carno, president of I Am Created Equal, which has opposed the gun-control measures, said the latest business shutdown shows that Democrats have kept their promise to focus on jobs, just not in the way that most Coloradans had expected.
“They passed laws, especially these gun laws, that are running companies out of Colorado,” said Carno in an email. “Both large companies like Magpul, and smaller companies like pawn shops, are either closing down or moving to more business-friendly states.”
Democratic legislators have argued that their policies are helping Colorado’s economy.
“The Senate Democrats promised to focus on jobs and the economy, and as you can see, our work is paying huge dividends for all Coloradans,” said Senate President John Morse in a statement last week. “I am proud that we put policy before politics this past legislative session and were extremely effective in getting things done.”
Great American Pawn may not be the last such business to fold. Gautreaux said he knows of other pawn shops that may follow suit, but their owners are waiting to see how the gun-control measures affect their sales.
“There’s a couple of businesses out there that are waiting it out to see if more comes,” said Gautreaux. “[But] I said I would close down if the bills passed, so I’m doing it. It affects me enough that you could say it’s kind of my own protest.”
What next for Gautreaux? A 40-year-old Army retiree, he says he plans to go into law enforcement.
“I sold what I could,” he said, “and I’m moving on to other stuff.”