April 09, 2013

Risky Business

Here's a story from The Coloradoan about the hunting boycott of Colorado.

"...And I know people are frustrated. We understand that,” Hampton said. 'There’s an outrage, but these new bills will not have an impact on our existing hunting regulations and they will not affect a person’s ability to hunt in Colorado.

'I think people are missing out on a great opportunity.”

That'd be Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton. And he's mistaken:

The new bills do not directly alter any hunting regulations. What they do is create a situation where there is legal peril in bringing a firearm or magazine into Colorado.

The universal background check law makes an exception for use while hunting if both parties are present. It also makes an exception for a temporary loan of up to 72 hours. If a person comes in from out of state with a borrowed rifle, that means his hunt had better be up before that 72 hour period lest he violate the law. If he planned a two day hunt anyway, he'd still better hope his flight out of DIA isn't delayed by snow.

There's been no clarification if the hunting exception would include a sighting in session prior to the actual hunt, or if having the loaned-for-hunting rifle in your motel room instead of the owners would be a violation.

These trivialities could result in a misdemeanor, which'd be no big deal. But an added penalty is a 2 year proscription, from the date of conviction, from possessing firearms or ammunition. This is reported to the NICS system so it'd be nationwide. And because of the way the ATFEIEIO (or whatever the hell those over-glorified revenuers are calling themselves this week) does things, there's some question whether or not this would turn into a permanent prohibition. There's been no other situation where a person is only prohibited from possessing firearms on a temporary basis without a direct intervention by a judge, governor, president or ATFEIEIO board. I can see them trying to say, "once a prohibited person, always a prohibited person".

The magazine ban - it covers any magazine capable of holding more than 15 rounds or readily convertible to hold more than 15 rounds. I'm pretty sure most sheriff's, especially in rural areas, will have better things to do than count rounds in a mag, or notice how easily replaceable a basepad is. The Denver PD won't be so lenient.

So if a hunter from out of state has any reason to chat with Officer Friendly, and said cop is aware of a magazine, he could make an arrest even if the mag held less than 15 rounds. The out of state hunter would be arrested, his firearms and magazines confiscated and a court appearance scheduled. He'd pony up cash for a lawyer, appear before a judge, state that the mags were owned before July 1rst and likely have the charges dismissed (unless the DA wanted to be an ass). That's where the fun begins; the Denver PD is not known for graciously returning firearms with an apology upon dismissal of charges. More cash for a lawyer would be necessary to return the firearms. It is possible that the magazines would not be returned. The mag ban calls for "continuous possession" of mags owned before July 1rst, 2013. With the DPD having confiscated said mags, I can see them arguing that continuous possession was not maintained, therefore they couldn't return the mags.

So no; these new laws would not directly impact the hunting regulations (which are byzantine enough as is). What they do is make any travel through Colorado while armed a legally dangerous proposition.

That's why hunters should boycott the state. Oh it'd be nice if hunters were stepping up and doing so because of principle, but the most important reason a hunter has to stay out of Colorado is their own well being.

I am not a lawyer (I've always made an honest living). But Timothy J Priebe is, and via Michael Bane I found Mr Priebe's analysis of some problems with the magazine ban. I can't decide what to excerpt so just read the entire thing as it gives a clear picture of how dangerous the magazine ban is.

This post of Michael Bane's also touches on some of the legal hassle one may go through if found with a magazine that turns out to be legal:

"Of course, you've got to pay your attorney, and because your car, guns and magazines were "seized for cause," that is, the property was confiscated because you in fact broke a law, you will probably get your car back, but Denver and surrounding municipalities have a policy that NO guns 'seized for cause' will be returned."

Hunters aren't the only ones looking for other states to shot in; a lot of competitors are boycotting as well:

"Passamaneck said that money will stay out of the state because competitors won’t risk breaking a new law that limits magazines to no more than 15 rounds. A standard magazine for a modern sporting rifle is 30 rounds." (emphasis added)

(As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to see they used a more proper term for a semi-automatic rifle. If only the rest of the mainstream media were as knowledgeable.)

I've written before about the hunting boycott of Colorado and its potential economic impact. That's not all. Firehand notes that The Outdoor Channel is moving production of 4 shows out of Colorado. An IDPA match has already been cancelled, and likely no IDPA events will be held in Colorado while these laws are on the books. Shall Not Be Questioned mentions the IDPA change of venue, along with the Ruger Rimfire Challenge World Championship being relocated outside of Colorado.

A lot of people in a lot of small towns will be impacted harshly. That's regrettable as can be, but I wouldn't encourage anyone to come into Colorado after July 1rst, 2013, unless these laws are repealed or struck down. In fact I'll discourage folks from visiting Colorado. It's excessively hazardous from a legal perspective even if there is no actual violation of the law. Attorney's fees, potential loss of property, plus added travel expenses (missed flights, or impound fees for your car, etc.) make Colorado too risky a proposition for any gun owner.

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