A Republican State Senator from Colorado, Bernie Herpin, is under fire for suggesting that it was "maybe a good thing" that James Holmes, who killed 12 and injured 70 people when he opened fire in an Aurora movie theater in 2012, was using a high-capacity magazine.
Herpin made his remark in response to Sen. Irene Aguilar, a Democrat, who questioned him on why he would want to overturn a recent ban on magazines containing more than 15 rounds. During a legislative hearing on the subject, Aguilar said:
My understanding is that James Holmes bought his 100-round capacity magazine legally. So in fact, this law would have stopped James Holmes from purchasing a 100-round magazine. I was wondering if you agree with me.
As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing that he had a 100-round magazine, because it jammed. If he had four, five, six 15-round magazines, there’s no telling how much damage he could have done until a good guy with a gun showed up.
Either Herpin was stalling for time while attempting to come up with a reason to defend the sale and purchase of high-capacity magazine rounds, or he really believes this backwards logic. Saying that it was "maybe a good thing" that he had a 100-round magazine employs alternate-universe reasoning that doesn't mean anything, and avoids a serious discussion of how to prevent similar tragedies. It also makes partisan a basic notion that republicans and democrats agree on: guns should not be used as killing machines. It's hard to argue that a 100-round magazine would be anything but.
Luckily, people with non-asinine opinions weighed in on the subject as well. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was killed in the shooting, said:
I’ve had a lot of thoughts since July 20, 2012, but never once did I think anyone was better off because the shooter brought a hundred round drum into that theater... Alex never had a chance. He was watching a movie one second and the next he was dead. The fact is, if the shooter had to change his magazine that would have been a chance for Alex to survive.
People waiting to testify joined Sullivan in his outrage, according to Colorado's Gazette:
"We heard from two parents who lost children in the Aurora shooting," said Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster. "And to have a member of our chamber sit here and say it was a good thing that the shooter had a 100-round magazine because we should just hope that it would jam . I can't imagine the pain."
KDVR reports that the Republican effort to overturn the ban was largely symbolic, as the Democrat-controlled House and Senate would never approve the legislation. In fact, Senate Democrats had already voted down a similar bill on Monday. But Herpin's attempt to keep gun-fever high in the state isn't really working, and his insensitive defense may backfire. KDVR explains:
Herpin’s gaffe, not to mention the increasingly paltry turnout at the Capitol from aggrieved gun owners — on Tuesday, three times more gun control advocates than gun owners showed up to testify on a proposal to allow concealed carry in schools — seems to illustrate that the strategy of highlighting gun-related issues may be backfiring for Republicans.
Herpin was elected into office in September to replace Democratic Senator John Morse, who faced a recall election for his support of stricter gun laws for the state. Herpin ran on a pro-gun platform to win voters over.
Herpin and Republicans' drive to maintain unreasonable gun laws is especially upsetting in light of a recent study that found that 44 school shootings have occurred since shooter Adam Lanza killed twenty children and six adults in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. That's one school shooting every ten days. Keep up the good work, Herpin.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.