Sponsors of a statewide initiative to close a loophole in gun show laws were stymied, but not particularly surprised, this week after a Colorado Springs gun advocate claimed their proposal violates the state's single-subject law.
Representatives from SAFE Colorado, which is sponsoring the citizens' initiative, believe Bernie Herpin and his cohorts are merely trying to stall their efforts to collect enough signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.
"They have made their agenda very clear," said SAFE Colorado co-founder Arnie Grossman. "Their agenda is to keep off the books any gun show legislation and [they] have resisted efforts to apply reasonable controls."
Bernie Herpin, the program director of the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, is challenging the measure before the Colorado Supreme Court, a move that will delay SAFE Colorado from gathering petition signatures until the matter is resolved.
The initiative, which is scheduled to appear on this November's statewide ballot, would require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows. However, Herpin claims the measure is misleading. For example, he said, the initiative would require private dealers to conduct background checks prior to the sale of a firearm. But it does not inform people that federally-licensed dealers at gun shows are already required to conduct background checks.
That loophole is exactly what the initiative's backers are targeting.
In addition, Herpin said the measure would require a gun show vendor to use the services of only federally licensed dealers. He claims that the new law would also require gun show promoters to post signs warning people that they must go through a background check before buying a firearm.
"It's kind of nitpicky, but it's the law," he said.
However, Grossman pointed out that the ballot wording has already been approved by the state title board. Herpin's challenge, he said, lacks substance.
Recent polls show that more than 80 percent of Coloradans -- across party and gender lines -- support closing the gun show loophole, which currently allows private dealers to sell firearms without criminal background checks or to ensure the gun is not being sold to a juvenile.
Grossman stopped short of characterizing gun activists who refuse to budge as a menace to society. However, he called their behavior unreasonable.
"I feel very strongly they are obstructing progress to lower the mortality rate in this country," Grossman said. "We lose 13 children a day [nationally] to gunshot deaths, 365 days a year. Something is wrong.
"A criminal should not be allowed to walk out of prison and walk into a gun show and buy a firearm without a background check," Grossman said. "It's already illegal, yes, but the reality is there's a loophole that allows them to get away with it."