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Colorado group tries to revive a college campus ban on concealed weapons

A group called Safe Campus Colorado is attempting to revive one of the few gun-control laws that Colorado’s Democratic-controlled state legislature was unable to pass during the last session: a ban on concealed weapons on college campuses.

The effort to put the measure onto the 2014 ballot is being spearheaded by former Littleton Police Chief Heather Coogan and businessman Ken Tolz. Tolz once ran against former Rep. and current GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo in the 6th Congressional District.

“We believe gun violence prevention is one of the major public safety issues of our time,” they wrote on Safe Campus Colorado’s website. “We believe carrying concealed weapons on Colorado’s great university, college and community college campuses threatens the safety of students, faculty, staff and administrators.”

“We believe when our state legislature fails to act, it becomes the responsibility of Colorado citizens to enact sensible commonsense laws to protect the safety of students, faculty, staff and administrators at public institutions of higher education,” they wrote.

The website cites polls showing a majority of respondents favor banning concealed weapons on college campuses, including a September survey of college students done by Ball State University, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star that shows 78 percent favor a ban.

But Colorado’s Democratic legislators dropped a bill that would have banned concealed weapons on campus when it became clear they didn’t have the support within their own party to pass it. Opponents said Democrats were waging a “war on women” by denying their ability to defend themselves on campuses. It was during debate on the bill that Sen. Evie Hudak told a rape survivor testifying against the bill that “the statistics are not on your side” even if she’d had a gun. The comment was among the reasons Hudak was targeted for recall by opponents of Colorado’s new gun-control laws.

Hudak resigned last week rather than risk losing a recall election. If she had lost, Republicans would have taken control of the state Senate.

Safe Campus Colorado’s initiative, if it gets enough signatures to make it on the 2014 ballot, would amend an existing law banning concealed weapons in elementary, middle and high schools to include “public college[s] and university campus[es].”

Tolz and Coogan must gather 86,105 valid signatures for the measure to appear on the ballot.

Colorado recently enacted hotly-contested new laws that limit the size of ammunition magazines and require universal background checks for all gun transfers. In addition to the campus gun ban, Democrats also killed a proposal that would have held gun manufacturers liable for any damage they caused.

The sponsor of the latter bill, former Senate President John Morse, was recalled in September for his support of the new gun laws, along with former Sen. Angela Giron.

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