When Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law several gun control bills, the state experienced a great period of restlessness as gun owners and sportsmen lent voice to the opposition with a much dreaded boycott of the state. At the time, Outdoor Channel producer Michael Bane announced that he will not be filming in the Centennial state and he called for other hunters to likewise take their trips elsewhere.
In March, the number of groups asking for a boycott of Colorado reached such a high amount that the state’s smaller towns, which depend on the revenue generated by out-of-state hunters, began to have serious worries. It had, in fact, prompted the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department to issue an informative pamphlet explaining more about new gun bills and how hunting would be affected. Roughly 15 percent of the state’s licensed hunters come from outside the state. The number may not sound large, but it could very well doom rural towns that depend on this seasonal income.
Now two months later, is the state’s hunting industry bracing for the worst?
Rather than dusting off cobwebs and playing solitaire, the employees of the Parks and Wildlife department are busy handling over 468,000 applications for its 2013 big game season. Instead of experiencing a loss, applications have increased by 17,000. According to Denver Post columnist Scott Willoughby, the influx of online applications actually crashed the department’s servers.
“We’ve got 17,000 more customers interested in our product. That makes us feel very good right now,” said department director Rick Cables. “I just hope people realize we have a great product and that Colorado is open for business, and that’s the message going out.”
There are several reasons for this apparent lack of impact. The first is that several of the groups calling for a boycott, especially those in the state, had a change of heart when the debate turned more to how the boycott would hurt the state’s economy and small businesses. One of these groups, the Tea Party Gun Owners of Colorado, canceled their boycott after evaluating how the boycott could potentially be disastrous for all elements of the state’s hunting industry, which went against their pro-business standpoint.
Secondly, groups that did continue to support the boycott eventually focused more on overturning the legislation, which was the boycott’s end goal. Colorado manufacturer Magpul joined 53 state sheriffs in filing a lawsuit against the new gun control measures, which they believe is unconstitutional.
Along with that court action, residents are signing petitions to recall the legislators who penned the firearm-related bills. A campaign by Colorado gun owners have already submitted a 16,000-signature petition to oust state Senate President John Morse, who according to the The Washington Times is expected to appear on a recall ballot following an announcement by the end of this week. Several other lawmakers have also been named by the petitions, and gun owners are drawing increasing support through social media.
For now, it seems that those who enjoy and support hunting in Colorado can breathe a sigh of relief. The state’s new gun laws however, are still hotly contested. Starting July 1, the state will begin limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds, expand background checks, and require firearm purchasers to pay a fee for those background checks.