DENVER (AP) — Gun-rights activists and college students thronged the Capitol Wednesday to see lawmakers debate concealed weapons on campuses.
A bill pending in the House Education Committee would end Colorado’s status as one of the few states where concealed weapons can be carried on college campuses. A separate committee planned to consider a bill to revive fees for required instant criminal background checks for gun purchasers.
Both measures were proposed by Democrats and are opposed by gun-rights activists. The campus gun bill comes a day after a House committee approved ammunition limits and expanded background checks for people buying guns.
The gun-control bills are in response to mass shootings at a suburban Denver movie theater and an elementary school in Connecticut.
The campus gun bill comes less than a year after Colorado’s highest court threw out campus concealed-carry bans. The court said that campuses couldn’t override state concealed-carry law because campus gun bans weren’t approved by the Legislature. The court said lawmakers would be free to enact such a ban, which currently applies only to courthouses, K-12 public schools and places where federal law prohibits concealed weapons.
“Students and guns are a bad mix. Students engage in risky behavior,” said Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat from Boulder, home of the main University of Colorado campus.
Republicans were skeptical. Some on the committee argued Colorado students are safer because of the state’s unusual allowance of concealed weapons on college campuses.
The background check fee bill would require the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to charge user fees for background checks. Such fees were in place in Colorado from 1994 and 1999. A state legislative analysis projected that reviving background check fees would cost gun owners a collective $4 million or so next year.
By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)