Colo., January 9, 2014—The defeat of Sen. Rollie Heath’s (D-Boulder) bill to ban concealed carry on college campuses during the last legislative session in Colorado was not the end of the idea for at least one long-time activist. On October 22, 2013 Boulder Democrat Ken Toltz formed a committee to put an initiative on the November 2014 ballot to ban concealed carry permit holders from carrying on Colorado’s college campuses.
Concealed carry permits in Colorado are obtained from the county sheriff after passing a concealed carry class taught by certified instructors, a background check, being fingerprinted and paying more than $200 in state and county fees. Permit holders also need to be over 21; you also need to be 21 to purchase a handgun. This alone severely limits the number of students even eligible for a permit—as little as 4% according to the University of Colorado at Boulder. Perhaps 1% actually carry.
When Sen. Heath’s bill was being debated, former senator Evie Hudak was famously callous toward a female student who testified against the bill. The student had been banned from carrying her permitted weapon on her Nevada campus the night she was raped.
A CU-Boulder carry ban was overruled by the Colorado Supreme Court in March 2012. At the time, David Burnett, director of public relations for Students for Concealed carry, said “Gun-free policies are an open invitation to psychopaths. Signs on the doors are an unenforceable lie that only robs licensed citizens of their ability to defend themselves. Until colleges can guarantee our safety, they can’t criminalize self-defense.”
But that’s not good enough for people like Toltz. He wants all guns off college campuses—despite the fact that there has been no gun violence on Colorado college campuses like there has been in two Colorado high schools where guns are banned. The perpetrators in those two incidents were not concealed carry permit holders and they brought their firearms to the high school campuses illegally. In the most recent incident at Arapahoe High School, an armed sheriff’s deputy ended the incident very quickly.
Almost immediately after registering the committee, Toltz chose to play the victim. He petitioned the Secretary of State’s office to have his address and telephone number removed from the registration, saying in an email that he feared harassment and threats like those “conveyed to Colorado State legislators during the 2013 session.” There was one email threat against Rep. Rhonda Fields that was investigated but no charges were filed.
Toltz advertises himself as the founder of “Safe Campus Colorado” on LinkedIn. That’s apparently his full time job since—unless he’s left something out of his resume—he hasn’t worked since 2009 except for a short stint last year as a blogger for The Huffington Post. Prior to that, he was an Adjunct Professor at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. While there, he earned a solid 2.2 out of 5 on student ratings, by far the worst of four professors at ratemyprofessors.com.
Perhaps he will do better as the leader of a petition drive. The first financial report for the committee is not due until next week so until then we won’t know what his resources are or who, if anybody else, is behind the effort.
Regardless, the debate over gun control is far from over in Colorado. It is rumored in the capitol that Democrats will re-introduce Heath’s bill this session. Although defeated last year, Democrats still maintain a 1-vote advantage in the senate and with strict party discipline they could pass it.
Republicans are not going to let the issue lie, either. Representatives Chris Holbert and Lori Saine plan to introduce a bill to fully repeal the magazine ban.
While Democrats may wish to put last session’s controversies behind them and try to appear as though they are now focused on jobs and economic growth, it does not look like they will get their wish.
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