By Valerie Richardson
DENVER — Democrats came under heavy criticism Friday for driving Magpul Industries out of Colorado by pushing an aggressive gun-control agenda, a move that could cost the state more than $80 million annually.
Republican state Rep. Lori Saine said she was "saddened to see this completely partisan law, widely considered unenforceable by sheriffs across Colorado, cause Magpul to leave our state."
"The magazine ban did not garner one Republican vote in the House or Senate, and now as a result of this one-sided, Democrat-sponsored law, more than 200 people will lose their jobs and their ability to provide for their families," said Ms. Saine in a statement. "[T]his move will cost the state of Colorado over $80 million a year in revenue."
Officials at Magpul, which makes polymer firearms accessories, announced Thursday that the company will move its corporate headquarters to Texas and its manufacturing facility to Wyoming. Both are now based in Erie, Colo.
The relocation comes as a result of a measure signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in March that limits ammunition-magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Magpul is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the law.
Prior to the signing, Magpul officials told state officials that the company contributes more than $85 million annually to Colorado's economy. The company employs 200 people and supports another 400 supply-chain jobs.
A year ago, the rapidly expanding firm was preparing to build a state-of-the-art facility in Broomfield, but pivoted after the gun-control bills gained steam. Magpul was founded in 1999 by CEO Richard Fitzpatrick in the basement of his home in Longmont, Colo.
The company plans to keep a small presence in Colorado in order to continue to fight the ammunition-magazine law.
"2013 began with Magpul planning expansion in Colorado, now 2014 begins with the announcement that Magpul will move 92 percent of its operation to Wyoming and Texas," said Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy in a statement.
So far no Democratic lawmakers, including Mr. Hickenlooper, have commented publicly on Magpul's decision to leave Colorado, although several Democrats have said that job growth is their top priority for 2014.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino said at a press briefing Friday that he would not support a Republican-led effort to repeal the magazine law, adding he did not want to "rehash the same fights we had last year," according to the Denver Post.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman noted Friday that the three gun-control bills approved and signed in March were passed by the state legislature with no Republican votes.
"Democrats got what they wished for yesterday when Magpul Industries announced it would be leaving Colorado and taking over 200 jobs with them," said Mr. Cadman in a statement. "It's unfortunate that Democrats willingly chased a quality business like Magpul Industries out of Colorado for no reason other than petty politics. It's even more unfortunate for the over 200 Coloradans who will be losing their jobs and falling behind on their bills as a direct result of irresponsible legislation from Democrats in Denver."
The issue has already become fodder for this year's gubernatorial race. Mr. Brophy and former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who are seeking the Republican nomination, blasted Mr. Hickenlooper for pushing Magpul out the door.
"This announcement is a stark reminder of the damage that this governor has done, and continues to do, to Colorado," said Mr. Tancredo in a statement. "Hickenlooper gladly signed anti-gun legislation, with full knowledge that his actions would alienate and demonize law-abiding citizens, and job-creating businesses such as Magpul."
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