Republicans challenged Hickenlooper to get behind a repeal of the bill after he told county sheriffs that he was sorry for failing to consult with them on the measure; that a staffer promised he would sign the bill if it passed, and that the bill probably wouldn’t accomplish anything.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler called on the governor to convene a special session in order to repeal the magazine-limit law, also known as H.B. 1224.
“If he’s really sincere about the mistakes he’s made, he would call a special session beforehand to fix his mistakes,” said Gessler, who’s seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination. “But I don’t think he’s going to do that.”
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who’s also running for the Republican nod, pointed out that a proposed initiative to repeal the law is now in the signature-gathering phase.
“There’s an initiative trying to get on the ballot right now, but I don’t hear him touting it,” said Tancredo.
Hickenlooper’s rambling June 13 speech to the sheriffs in Aspen has generated intense criticism this week after going viral. In his remarks, the governor appears to be making the argument that he shouldn’t have signed the magazine-limit bill in March 2013.
“Again, if we’d known it was going to divide the state so intensely, I think we probably would have thought about it twice,” said Hickenlooper on a video posted online by Revealing Politics.
“As you point out, how important really was it? They tell me after all the kerfuffle–I went back to try to get some facts that we should have had at the beginning–they told me there are roughly 300,000 magazines that carry more than 15 rounds in the state of Colorado already,” said Hickenlooper. “How’s a police enforcement officer ever gonna tell which is the old and which is the new one?”
Of course, Hickenlooper did have an opportunity earlier this year for a do-over. State Rep. Chris Holbert (R-Parker) sponsored a repeal of the magazine-limit bill in this year’s legislative session, but the measure was killed in February on a party-line vote in committee.
Holbert said he didn’t receive any support from the governor for his repeal bill, but that he was confident such legislation would pass next year if the governor would throw his weight behind it.
Hickenlooper is running for reelection in November, while Holbert is seeking a state Senate seat. Holbert said if he wins, he plans to run the repeal bill again in 2015.
“If I’m reelected and he’s reelected, I would invite him to get behind a repeal bill with me,” said Holbert. “I know the constituents in the district I’m hoping to represent would be thrilled to have him get behind this.”
In the meantime, “I think it’s reasonable to ask the governor right now: Would you sign it? Or is this just one of those convenient excuses?” said Holbert, who ran the bill with state Rep. Lori Saine (R-Dacono).
The county sheriffs have been among the gun-control bill’s toughest critics, with 55 sheriffs filing a lawsuit last year to overturn the magazine-limit law.
In his remarks, Hickenlooper tries to deflect blame for the bill-signing on a staffer. “One of my staff made a commitment that we would sign it if it got passed. To be honest, no one in our office thought it would get through the legislature,” said Hickenlooper.
In a Wednesday post on Twitter, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler cracked, “Hick powerless to override staffer commitment to support controversial gun bill.”
While Republicans would like to see Hickenlooper support a repeal, nobody’s holding their breath. He would have to defy local and national gun-control advocates, including billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who championed the bill in the aftermath of two 2012 mass shootings.
“This is the governor trying to cover himself now because he’s been so politically unpopular,” said Gessler.