Gun Culture

Proponents pull Initiative 49, campus gun ban

The general election is November 4, and initiatives on such hot topics as fracking and genetically modified food are vying for a place on the ballot. But a proposal focusing on the hottest topic of all -- gun control -- won't be on the ticket. Late last week Safe Campus Colorado, a nonpartisan grassroots campaign working to end gun violence in schools, pulled its proposed initiative, 49, from consideration.

"It became evident over the past few months that last year's gun violence prevention legislation was being used as a political football in a number of Colorado candidate elections," Safe Campus Colorado explained in a statement. "We are non-partisan and don't want this important issue to be caught up in the candidate campaigns, so made the very difficult decision not to submit our petitions for this November's ballot. We found statewide support for adding colleges and universities to the already existing exceptions in the concealed carry permit law and will continue building awareness and support for a change to the law."

Initiative 49 had aimed to include public college and university campuses as places where concealed weapons are specifically banned under current state law. (Any areas not specifically banned are considered acceptable areas for concealed weapons.) The proposal had a few exceptions to the campus-wide ban. School security officers retained on contract by a school district would have been allowed to carry concealed handguns while they were on duty. If a person has a permit for a handgun, they could have kept it in their locked vehicle on campus. And a person with a permit could have carried a concealed handgun on undeveloped property owned by a school district, public university or college if that property is used for hunting or other shooting sports.

The Initiative 49 campaign was headed by Heather Coogan and Ken Toltz, founder of Safe Campus Colorado and a former candidate for Colorado's sixth congressional district, which includes Columbine High School. (In 2000, he ran against then-incumbent Tom Tancredo.) Coogan, co-chair of Safe Campus Colorado, is the retired police chief of Littleton. Although they haven't given up the cause, they have given up putting their proposal on the ballot this November.

Here's what you would have seen had Safe Campus Colorado collected the requisite signatures:
Shall the Colorado Revised Statutes be amended to provide that a concealed handgun permit does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun on the property or facilities of a public college or university, except in limited circumstances currently provided by law?
In 2003, the Colorado legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act, allowing those with a permit to carry a concealed weapon in all areas of the state. In 2012, the act was upheld when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against the University of Colorado Board of Regents, which tried to ban concealed weapons on CU campuses.

In the wake of the July 2012 Aurora theater shootings, several gun-rights bills were introduced in the legislature, including one concerning concealed handguns on school campuses. That proposal would have added college and university campuses to the areas where concealed weapons were not allowed. It passed in House and Senate committees but was eventually pulled by its sponsor before a vote could take place. And now proponents have done the same with Initiative 49.

We'll be profiling all the ballot measures over the next few months. To find out more about proposed initiatives in Colorado in the meantime, visit the Colorado Secretary of State website.

From our archives: "Personhood USA pushes Amendment 67, redefinition of 'person' and 'child'."