Public Eye 

Local gun guy Bernie Herpin has lost his effort to keep the statewide gun show loophole initiative off the ballot this November.

Herpin, a member of the Pikes Peak Firearm Coalition, complained that the initiative was too broad and violated the state's single subject requirement. But the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the ballot wording was acceptable.

After the ruling, Bill Dietrick, political director of the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, reportedly blamed the decision on a liberal Supreme Court. (Notably, Republican Gov. Bill Owens is one of several high-profile conservatives who strongly support the measure.)

The initiative, sponsored by Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic (SAFE), would require buyers at gun shows to undergo the kind of background checks that are already required at gun stores. The loophole, they say, currently gives criminals the ability to buy guns without any checks or balances.

SAFE may have won this battle, but the group expects more trouble from Herpin and his gun-wielding gang. However, SAFE sponsors vow they have "the law, logic and common sense on our side."

So far, the group has collected nearly 64,500 petition signatures -- 62,500 are required to get on the ballot -- but wants 100,000 as a show of support for the proposal.

Despite vocal pro-gun critics' opposition to enacting any gun control laws, independent polls indicate that a strong majority of Coloradans support legislation that would make it harder for children and criminals to obtain guns.

Also this week, the Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way for three other statewide ballot proposals, if their sponsors can collect enough valid signatures by the Aug. 7 deadline:

A growth management amendment that would require cities and counties across Colorado to develop plans for future growth;

An amendment that would ban open-pit gold and silver mining that uses cyanide processing agents;

An amendment that would require all genetically engineered food be labeled.

All of those cozy political ties to business and commerce are really paying off for former Colorado House Speaker Chuck Berry, who has recently resurfaced and named president and chief executive officer of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. CACI, founded in 1965, is the collective voice of business and industry in Colorado and, in essence, serves as the statewide chamber of commerce.

As the Speaker of the House from 1991-1998, Berry was famous for his fair-handed approach to politics. And though the Republican was from El Paso County, Berry lived full-time in Denver for most of the 14 years he served in the Legislature, with his kids attending Denver Public Schools. Berry's wife, Maria Garcia Berry, is one of the most powerful lobbyists at the capitol.

Berry had planned to run for governor when he was term-limited out of the state legislature in 1998. But Bill Owens became the darling of the GOP and Berry gracefully bowed out and concentrated on lawyering at the prestigious Holme Roberts and Owen.

Now, as the big cheese at CACI, Berry will join his wife on the lobbying side of the political fence, fighting for business interests across the state.

The Libertarians are hoping the second time's a charm for their presidential candidate, Harry Browne. Earlier this week, the party that wants government out of the lives of Americans picked Browne, an author of investment books, as their candidate for the White House.

Browne came in fifth with less than a half-million votes when he ran four years ago.

"I am running for President because it's obvious that no Democrat or Republican is going to stop the relentless growth of the federal government," Browne wrote, explaining why he wants to be in charge of the federal government. "I am running for President because the Republican and Democratic candidates argue only about which of them can best run your life. I believe you know best how to run your life."

Browne is the author of several investment books, and also wrote How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World and Why Government Doesn't Work.

At the Libertarians' convention, Colorado's 30-member delegation helped ratify the party's presidential platform, calling for re-privatizing retirement, affirming the right of gun ownership and reducing government "to a level that would allow the complete abolition of the income tax."

The platform also calls for an end to the Drug War, citing it as, "dangerous to your children, your city, and your country -- putting the wrong people in prison, trampling on your liberty, taking the drug business away from pharmaceutical companies and doctors, and putting it into the hands of the criminals."

Keynote speaker at the convention was Colorado's top-dog Libertarian, mayor of Telluride, ????? ????????.

-- degette@csindy.com


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