NEW YORK -- A Republican state senator in Colorado has claimed it was "maybe a good thing" that James Holmes, the alleged gunman in the Aurora theatre shooting, used a 100-round ammunition magazine.
The 2012 massacre, which left 12 people dead and more than 70 wounded, sparked a national debate in the US about gun control, and particularly whether high-capacity magazines should be available to members of the public. Holmes, who stands accused of the slaughter, purchased the magazine legally before allegedly carrying out the shooting.
Bernie Herpin made the comments on Wednesday in the state senate
Responding to a question in the state senate about the state's subsequent ban on high-capacity magazines, Bernie Herpin said: "As it turns 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."
Herpin’s comments sparked an immediate backlash, with Tom Sullivan, the father of one of the victims killed in the theatre, responding: "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 theatre with a 100-round drum and opened fire on the over 200 people that were in that theatre."
Sullivan added: "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."
James Holmes stands accused of the murder of 12 people in the Aurora theatre
Herpin was quick to backtrack, suggesting he was only trying to illustrate that high-capacity magazines were unreliable.
Following the Aurora massacre, the state’s Democratic governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a number of gun control measures, including a ban on high capacity magazines, and background checks for all gun sales. State Republicans, including Herpin, have targeted these measures for repeal so far without success.