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Hunters seek to boycott Colorado over new gun control laws

March 27, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signs gun control measures in his office at the state Capitol in Denver.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signs gun control measures in his office… (RJ Sangosti / Associated…)

Some hunters are targeting Colorado’s important tourism dollars by urging a boycott of the state because of its recently approved gun control legislation.

“It’s a question of principle,”  Chris Jurney, vice president of the Colorado Outfitters Assn., a group that represents many of the guides and outfitters that cater to out-of-state hunters, told The Times. “It’s a real threat; people are tired of having their rights infringed upon.”

Last week, Colorado became the first Western state to approve gun control measures, including an expansion of background checks for prospective buyers and a limit on the size of ammunition magazines. Other states, such as New York, have taken tougher steps in response to deadly attacks by lone gunmen -- one on an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and another at a suburban movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

Congress is expected to debate a package of restrictions when it returns from spring break.

But as a Western state with a strong history of guns, Colorado carries a special status, and hunters are concerned.

“Ultimately we didn’t support any of the bills as they were presented,” said Jurney, a registered outfitter and guide. “It gets back to a basic infringement of the 2nd Amendment rights, and that’s  principle enough so sportsmen will act.”

Jurney said he and others have received emails from sportsmen’s groups  urging members to boycott Colorado. Michael Bane, a freelance producer for the Outdoor Channel, said he would no longer film his four shows in Colorado, according to the Gazette in Colorado Springs, which first reported on the boycott. A boycott by sportsmen was also repeatedly threatened during the debate over the legislation.

The impact of any boycott will be hard to measure for a while. The laws go into effect in July and hunting season for rifle doesn’t start until the late summer and early autumn, though reservations and licenses will come earlier.

It is also hard to judge which of the new restrictions will have any impact on hunters. But Jurney pointed to the 72-hour grace period as one possible difficulty. Though allowing 72 hours for guns to be shared before background checks are required may sound like a lot of time, he said, it really isn’t.

“We do a lot of donated youth hunts,” Jurney said, during which hunters work with young adults and borrowed weapons. Those outings can run three to five days, which could force checks for the longer trips.

But “it is really the principles involved that are the issue,” Jurney said. “They sound good, but all that they do is take something away from law-abiding citizens.” The new requirements like background checks “don't affect criminals at all.”

The current round of gun control legislation, both at the federal and state levels, comes after a series of mass shootings last year, including the one at the Colorado movie theater, where the assailant killed 12 and injured about 70. James E. Holmes is awaiting trial on 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges in the case.

In 1999, two students killed 12 other students and a teacher in an attack on Columbine High School in Jefferson County in Colorado. The assailants  committed suicide.

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