Hunters begin boycott over Colorado gun laws

In this photo dated March 8, 2013, protesters gathered in front of the Capitol in Denver where State Senators debated seven gun control bills. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Hunters across the country are boycotting Colorado because of recent legislation meant to curtail gun violence.

Michael Bane, a producer for The Outdoor Channel, announced he will no longer film his four shows in Colorado, and hunters are joining the protests.

Hunting outfitters say people began canceling trips after the legislation passed, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The numbers are few, but growing.

Colorado's governor signed bills this month that ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, and require background checks for private and online gun sales.

Those new gun laws and others were drawn up in response to mass killings at a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

However, support for gun control laws seems to have waned in the past few months. A recent CBS News poll shows that support for stricter gun control stands at 47 percent now, down from a high of 57 percent just after the Newtown shootings. Thirty-nine percent want the laws kept as they are, and another 11 percent want them made less strict.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not giving up his fight for stricter gun control laws. In an aggressive new campaign, Bloomberg announced this week that he would be putting $12 million of his own money to sponsor television ads that will air across 13 states pushing for background checks, something most gun advocacy groups oppose.

Northwest Colorado hunting guide Chris Jurney expects more state defections in a major tourism industry. Out-of-state hunters accounted for 15 percent of hunting licenses last year, 86,000, compared with 489,000 for residents.

"There's a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them," said Jurney, vice president of the Colorado Outfitters Association. "That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we're going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation."

Legislative leaders declined to comment.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said his agency has asked the state attorney general's office for advice on impacts to hunters. While legal possession of high-capacity magazines is grandfathered in, officials want to make sure they are still legal to use.

Jurney said he expects the actual impact of gun regulations on Colorado hunters will be small. Varmint hunters tend to use high-capacity magazines, so they might be limited. He also is concerned about a provision that limits the loaning of a gun to 72 hours. Many youth hunts, in which most guns are loaned, last longer, he said.

Jeff Lepp, owner of Specialty Sports, a gun and hunting shop in Colorado Springs, predicts hunters are going to choose to visit other Rocky Mountain states.

"Small mountain towns and rural towns in this state are going to lose a lot of money because you're not going to see the number of out-of-state hunters coming here. Other states are going to see a growth," he said.

Comments