DENVER - During a hearing on a bill proposing to repeal Colorado's ban on selling high-capacity magazines, a State Senator said it was "maybe a good thing" that the Aurora movie theater shooting involved such a magazine. The father of one of the victims in that shooting, who also testified Wednesday, passionately disagreed.
"As it turns out, that was maybe a good thing that he had a 100-round magazine because it jammed," said Republican Senator Bernie Herpin, of Colorado Springs, during a hearing on the bill in the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
Herpin was responding to a fellow senator who asked for a response to the idea that the high-capacity magazine ban might have changed the theater shooting. The shooting defendant, James Holmes, is accused of using a 100-round drum magazine in an attack that killed 12 and injured 70 others. According to the testimony of an ATF agent, Holmes purchased that drum magazine legally online more than a month before the shooting.
"If he had four, five (or) six 15-round magazines, no telling how much damage he could have done until a good guy with a gun showed up," Herpin continued, implying that the high-capacity magazines are more likely to jam.
Herpin is one of the sponsors of the bill to repeal the ban, which is designated Senate Bill 14-100. He was elected last year to replace Senator John Morse, who was recalled after supporting the original ban.
Later in the hearing, Committee Chairman Sen. Jessie Ulibarri asked Tom Sullivan for his feelings on Herpin's comments. Sullivan's son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting on his 27th birthday.
Ulibarri asked, "Can you, based on the information you know about the crime scene, do they know when it jammed and how many rounds had been shot before?"
"Thank you chairman, I've had a lot of thoughts since July 20 of 2012 and I can tell you that I never have once thought that it was better that that man walked into that theater with a 100-round drum and opened fire on the over 200 people that were in that theater," Sullivan answered. "From every indication I have, from the pictures and reports that I received from the DA, it says that 76 bullets came out of that magazine."
Sullivan later told 7NEWS he felt Herpin's remarks were insensitive, but added that Herpin is entitled to his beliefs.
Herpin later expressed to 7NEWS that he was apologetic for the remark, but maintained his position on his proposal.
"Do you feel it was a good thing that he had a higher capacity magazine?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart.
"I think it would have been a good thing if he never went to the theater. Certainly I don't condone what happened. All I was trying to do was make a point that because he was using an unreliable magazine it jammed and he left," said Herpin.
After the hearing, the committee rejected the bill in a 3-2 party-line vote. Another attempt to repeal the ban was rejected by a Democrat-controlled committee in the house earlier this week.
"I think in this profession we need to chose our words wisely," said Ulibarri. "It was poorly stated and when he reiterated, I don't think he did much to clarify," he said.