DENVER – Proponents of a proposed Colorado ballot initiative that would allow users of marijuana to obtain a concealed-handgun permit say the effort has gone up in smoke, for now.
A lackluster signature-gathering process caused proponents to rethink the effort, perhaps regrouping for a later drive. Proponents have until July 29 to collect the 98,492 valid signatures needed to place the initiative on the Colorado ballot. Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone and a lead proponent, said Wednesday that his group won’t collect the necessary signatures.
“It didn’t happen for us this time,” Antillon said. “This time, we’re just going to have to call it what it is – we failed.”
The ballot initiative would amend the statute to state that a sheriff must issue a permit to an applicant who “is not an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.” It would then state “lawful use of marijuana shall not be cause for denying a permit to carry a concealed handgun.”
The current County Sheriffs of Colorado application for a concealed-handgun permit asks applicants to answer whether they are an “unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” But with recreational and medical marijuana legalized in Colorado, gun-rights proponents felt they needed to clarify the application process.
It’s all but a formality now before the ballot drive officially ends for the year. But Antillon said they generated some national support, which could lead to a later effort.
“It was a lack of manpower, and then the other thing, something we completely underestimated, was the fact that a lot of people who use marijuana, a lot of people who are gun owners, they don’t want to be on a so-called list,” Antillon said, referring to signing a ballot petition.
Since 2013, there hasn’t been a lot of movement on firearms issues in Colorado, when the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed reforms that included universal background checks and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines. There were attempts by Republicans at the Legislature this year to roll back those reforms, but Democrats killed those attempts, thanks to split chambers.
The marijuana-firearms issue was the only firearms ballot issue to gain any steam this year. There currently are no other proposals filed with the state.
Eileen McCarron, with gun-control group Colorado Ceasefire, wonders whether the gun-rights movement has lost steam in Colorado. She pointed out that there were fewer gun advocates at legislative hearings this year, compared with 2013.
The movement also faced infighting, as gun-rights supporters split over whether to compromise on legislation that would have eased restrictions on ammunition magazines. That legislation never developed, as gun-rights interests could not find consensus.
“The people who were opposed to the repeal bills this year quite outnumbered those who were testifying for the repeals,” McCarron said. “It was quite significant on almost all the bills.”