Colorado gun-control advocates and foes mobilize for new legislation

by Karen E. Crummy, The Denver Post  |  published on December 31, 2012

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A battle over Colorado gun laws is shaping up to be as expensive and contentious as the one after the Columbine shootings, as gun groups vow to hold state lawmakers responsible for their votes this legislative session.

Coloradans’ “live and let live” attitude has helped shape the state’s middle-of-the-road gun laws, which aren’t typically challenged with proposed restrictions. But recent mass shootings of moviegoers in Aurora and elementary schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., spurred Gov. John Hickenlooper and his Democratic colleagues — who control both chambers of the legislature — to promise a debate on gun-control measures this session.

Some Democratic lawmakers last week said comprehensive gun laws, including bans on some assault-style rifles, should be passed immediately.

Meanwhile, gun-rights groups are raising money, organizing members and preparing for a battle that is “one unlike we have ever seen,” according to the website of the Colorado State Shooting Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association.

“We will fight tooth and nail and oppose any compromise on any (gun) issue,” said Dudley Brown, head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the National Association for Gun Rights, who said his groups are actively fundraising. “We’re going to remind Colorado voters in 2014 and elections beyond how (legislative) members voted” on gun-control bills.

Thirteen years ago, after the Columbine shootings, gun- rights groups and their opponents spent $1.5 million on ads, lobbyists and campaign contributions to influence state legislation and a ballot initiative.

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