Western States may See Gun Initiatives on Fall Ballots

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Gun control advocates in at least three Western states - Colorado, Utah, and Oregon - are conducting petition drives to put gun issues on the ballot this fall.

In Colorado and Oregon, the ballot initiatives target guns sold at gun shows by private dealers. The measures would require criminal background checks of people who purchase guns at weekend gun shows, where, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, about 25 percent of vendors at the shows are unlicensed.

Similar bills in both states failed to pass their state legislatures this year, although both Republican Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber reportedly are backing the ballot initiatives.

In the U.S. Congress, a similar measure was introduced last year, but failed to become law.

The National Rifle Association opposes such initiatives, saying that a background check would take too long, and would put weekend gun dealers out of business.

The Utah ballot initiative would ban guns from schools and churches. It's a revival of a legislative agenda supported by Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt, but recently rejected by the state legislature.

A coalition of groups led by the Utah Parent-Teachers Association is organizing the drive to collect the required ten percent of the registered voters' signatures in the state to get the measure on the November ballot.