College campus safety group wants concealed carry ban on November 2014 ballot

Proposal would add colleges to K-12 statue

DENVER - Colorado voters may get to weigh in on a controversial gun control topic that has gone all the way to the state Supreme Court. It involves guns on public college campuses.

Colorado is one of two states with no legal restrictions on concealed carry permit holders who want to carry handguns on campus.

A group called Safe Campus Colorado wants to change that.

"We believe that concealed guns on college campuses are a threat to everyone," said Ken Toltz, a former adjunct professor and the father of two college-age daughters. "We also believe that Colorado citizens should have a voice on gun policy through an initiative."

The safe campus group is proposing a ballot initiative to add the words "public college or university" to the existing statute which restricts concealed weapons at K-12 schools.

But opponents say even if voters approve an initiative, "there are questions about constitutionality."

William Perry Pendley, president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, said the state Supreme Court did not address constitutional questions when it ruled on a case involving the University of Colorado in 2012.

CU had its own concealed weapons ban in place, but that ban was challenged by three students and a group called Concealed Carry on Campus, LLC.

Eventually, the high court ruled that CU's ban was illegal because it was not approved by the legislature.

Under current statute, concealed carry restrictions apply only to K-12 schools.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers tried, but failed to add college campuses to the statute.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represented the students who filed suit against CU, said Democratic lawmakers overreached with their legislation.

Toltz admitted that the political climate wasn't right for lawmakers to tackle the issue. Now, he said, there are Republicans and Democrats who will get behind a citizen-led initiative.

On Thursday, the state's Title Setting Review Board will hold a hearing to set the wording of the title for the group's proposal.

When asked why he decided to lead the effort, Toltz said, "I don't want to send my daughters to a place where concealed guns are carried on that campus."

He said there are some places that guns should not be allowed.

"Airplanes for example," he said. "Schools are another."

Pendley called the initiative effort an attempt to override both the Legislature and the Supreme Court.

He said banning guns could put more people in danger.

He recalled the testimony of a college coed from Nevada, who told lawmakers that she was brutally assaulted.

"She testified that if she had had a weapon that night, she would not have been raped," Pendley said. "And her attacker would not have gone on to rape others."

Pendley added that there is a difference between K-12 schools and colleges and universities.

"We have veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan… and they're returning to college to get advanced degrees," he said. "They're of an age where they have the right to carry and have a proper permit."

Toltz said his group needs to collect more than 86,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.