The battle over gun control probably will move from the state Capitol to the ballot box in November as both sides of the issue have filed proposed ballot measures.
One proposal would limit concealed handguns on Colorado campuses. Another would overturn a Democrat-imposed ban on ammunition magazines that fire more than 15 rounds. And a third would repeal all gun legislation passed in 2013 — not just the mag ban — that "restrict or limit" the right to bear arms.
The proposals, if they make it to the ballot, guarantee Colorado for the second year in a row would be a key battleground in the fight over gun control.
Last September, gun-rights proponents successfully recalled the first state legislators in Colorado history, two Democrats who had supported tougher gun laws in the 2013 session. A third Democrat resigned in November rather than face a recall. The National Rifle Association and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Colorado to support and fight the recalls.
Proponents of the campus measure appeared at a hearing Thursday to set the title of their proposal, one in a series of steps that must be taken before anyone proposing a ballot measure can gather signatures and attempt to put an issue to voters.
The proponents behind the initiative are Heather Coogan, former Littleton police chief, and Ken Toltz, parent of college students and former adjunct professor at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business.
"We need to have a positive initiative for people who care about public safety to organize around," Toltz said Thursday.
Because of a state Supreme Court ruling, Colorado is one of only two states with no legal restrictions on concealed-carry permit holders possessing their handguns on public college campuses. The proposed ballot measure seeks to overturn that.
A bill banning concealed carry permits on campus died in the 2013 legislature during heated debate on a package of gun-control legislation. In both the House and the Senate, two Democratic lawmakers were skewered for their remarks about the bill, which helped doom it.
The measure limiting ammunition magazines resulted in the largest manufacturer of magazines in Colorado, Magpul, announcing Thursday it has moved its operations to Wyoming and Texas.
Two Republican activists, Tom Lucero of Larimer County and Patrick Davis of Colorado Springs, filed the proposal to overturn the mag ban. Lucero said Thursday they are trying to raise enough money to get the measure on the ballot.
"We know how challenging that is," he said.
The other proposed measure not only overturns gun restrictions passed in 2013 but deems that future measures limiting gun rights can be decided only by the voters. It was proposed by Mike Holler and Anne Gill. Neither could be reached for comment.
Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327, email@example.com or twitter.com/lynn_bartels