Initiative to ban guns from public college campuses moves forward

Photo: Gun free drug free school zone sign

The initiative aims to add higher-learning institutions to the list of schools where it is prohibited to carry firearms along with public elementary, middle and high schools.

Current laws prohibit carrying guns on the campuses of public elementary, middle and high schools.

A bill banning concealed weapons on college campuses in 2013 failed at the legislature.

But initiative proponent Ken Toltz, founder of Safe Campus Colorado, said Coloradans need to make their voices heard.

“What do we want Colorado to be known for?” Tolz, a father of two college students and a former adjunct professor of business at the University of Denver, asked. “We don’t want Colorado to be known for these terrible tragedies.”

Instead, Tolz says he wants Colorado to be known for the progressive ways laws are handled and efforts to curb potential school violence.

A 2012 poll shows that 65 percent of Colorado voters were in favor of banning concealed guns on college campuses.

Colorado and Utah are the only two states with no legal restrictions on concealed guns on public college campuses.

Colorado’s private colleges may prohibit concealed guns but Colorado Christian University, Regis University and University of Denver all have current policies banning concealed weapons.

Permit-holders in Colorado have been allowed to carry concealed weapons since 2003.

After some college campuses tried to keep gun bans in place, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that campuses are not on the narrow list of exceptions found in Colorado’s concealed carry law.

Exceptions include places like public schools and the state Capitol.

Former Littleton Police Chief Heather Coogan, co-founder of Safe Campus Colorado, said allowing concealed guns on campus makes the job of police officers more difficult.

“Staff [members] were very concerned about students bringing guns into either the classroom, into the buildings or meeting with teachers,” Coogan said. “It adds another level of threat we have to be aware of.”

Tolz and Coogan said they will now begin recruiting volunteers to gather signatures.

Proponents of the ban have six months to collect more than 86,000 signatures from voters to land the initiative onto the November 2014 ballot.