DENVER (AP) - Democrats stopped another Republican bill to repeal limits on the size of ammunition magazines Wednesday during a hearing that included impassioned comments from the father of a victim of the suburban Denver movie theater shooting.
The comments came after the Republican sponsor of the bill, Sen. Bernie Herpin of Colorado Springs, said it may have been a "good thing" that theater-shooting suspect James Holmes had a 100-round magazine because it jammed. Magazines of that size are considered unreliable, Herpin said.
Herpin made the remarks when a Democratic senator asked him if he agreed that the law passed last year, which prohibits the sale of magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, would've prevented Holmes from buying a 100-round magazine.
"Perhaps James Holmes would not have been able to purchase a 100-round magazine," Herpin responded. "As it turns out, that was maybe a good thing, that he had a 100-round magazine, because it jammed. If he had instead had four, five, six 15-round magazines, there's no telling how much damage he could've done until a good guy with a gun showed up."
Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 at an Aurora movie theater in July 2012.
Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was among those killed, took issue with Herpin's comments.
"I've had a lot of thoughts since July 20 of 2012, and I can tell you that I never had 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 said.
Democrats passed the magazine limits along with other gun restrictions last year in response to mass shootings in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
A Senate committee rejected Herpin's proposed repeal on a 3-2 party-line vote, an expected outcome for the second GOP attempt this week to undo last year's magazine restrictions.
Democrats say the purpose of the law is to minimize damage from mass shooters who use larger magazines to inflict the most harm in a short amount of time. But Republicans say the law restricts the rights or law-abiding citizens and doesn't stop criminals who are intent on doing harm.
Before voting no on Herpin's bill, Democratic Sen. Jessie Ulibarri sounded emotional when he referenced the names of the children killed in Sandy Hook. Ulibarri said Herpin's comments about the theater shooting concerned him.
"Twelve lives were lost, 70 were injured. That wasn't a good thing in any sense," he said.
Herpin is one of two lawmakers who replaced Democratic senators after September recall elections over the new gun restrictions. After the hearing, he tried to further explain his comments.
"I was trying to make a point that the high-capacity magazine that he was using was unreliable, jammed, and that saved lives," he said.
- By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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