Damaging or smart, gun laws still reality

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Paradise Sales Firearms has been a fixture for years, but owner Paul Paradis says he might retire.

Paradise Sales Firearms has been a fixture for years, but owner Paul Paradis says he might retire.

Some say that July 1 marked the dawn of a new era in Colorado gun-control policy, but one local gun shop owner says it amounts to a business setback.

“What we did is create a useless law that hurts Colorado business and has no effect whatsoever on the crime rate,” said Paul Paradis, who owns Paradise Sales Firearms at 605 W. Colorado Ave.

The new state laws, which took effect this week, limit gun magazine capacity to 15 rounds, intensify background checks for gun buyers and restrict domestic-violence offenders from purchasing guns.

Democratic state Rep. Beth McCann from Denver, who proposed and sponsored most of those bills, disagrees with Paradis’ interpretation of constitutional gun-ownership rights.

Paradis has run his store west of downtown Colorado Springs for nearly 30 years and says that he hopes the abundance of opponents — many pursuing recalls of lawmakers (most notably Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs) and an annulment of the legislation — is a sign that the storm soon will pass and that business eventually will normalize.

“I think the important thing to remember is that these are reasonable bills that are designed to increase the safety of our citizens, and many people agree that this is common-sense legislation,” McCann said.

If Paradis’ hopes don’t come to pass, and the laws aren’t repealed, he said he’s all right with packing his wares and searching for a new place to roam: “I’ll retire here in about a year, so I can find another state to move to … but I kind of hope I get to stay here in Colorado.”

Although he no longer can sell the high-capacity magazines in the state, Paradis said he can try to get rid of his inventory by selling magazines to law enforcement agencies or mailing them to online customers across state lines.

“That’s going to make it more costly, because there is more cost involved in the shipping,” he said. “But we’re really just waiting to see what happens.”

He said that the selection of sellable guns in the state will shrink because of the fact that no magazines under 15-round capacity are manufactured for them. And those high-capacity magazines are the ones that sold like wildfire in the days, weeks and months leading up to what some think of as “Second Amendment D-Day.”

“My best guess is that we will see a 25 to 30 percent drop in sales over the next year if this law stays in effect,” Paradis said.

The veteran gun salesman claims that the bill limiting magazine capacity also limits some important safety features that the components offer: He claims that many magazines add weight and size and improve handling when applied to some guns, making them easier to fit in the owner’s hand.

However, not everyone agrees with this defense, or Paradis’ claim that the laws will drive business from the state and thus hurt Colorado’s economy.

“I think just the opposite has happened,” said McCann, who sponsored three of the four gun control bills proposed in the 2013 General Assembly session. “This bill has turned out to be good economically for gun sellers in Colorado because buyers have bought up everything in the stores.”

McCann said that she thinks “15 rounds should be adequate” for gun owners and that “people will adapt” to the new restrictions.

“I think that people who wanted larger magazines have purchased them,” McCann said about the rush of gun-shop business before July 1.

To support her belief that the new laws will not adversely affect the state’s economy, McCann said that the application rate for Colorado hunting licenses is up: “As far as I’m aware, it has not affected people who want to come to Colorado to hunt.”

McCann also said that the new laws aren’t as extreme as Paradis and other gun enthusiasts claim them to be.

“These are kind of common-sense gun safety bills,” McCann said. “The bill will now say you have to have a background check regardless where you are buying the weapon.”