Outdoor Channel striking tents in Colo. if gun bill passes

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DENVER - Colorado stands to lose its status as a premier hunting and sports-shooting destination if the governor signs gun-control bills now rolling through the state legislature, according to an executive producer for the Outdoor Channel.

Michael Bane, an executive producer for four hunting-related shows, said in a letter released Friday that the Outdoor Channel will move its production out of Colorado if the bills become law. Other hunting shows, organizations and clubs are also expected to avoid the state, he said.


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“Next month I will be in Texas meeting with most of the top outdoor/hunting producers, and the Number One agenda item will be Colorado,” said Mr. Bane in a March 5 letter to Republican state Sen. Steve King. “Already, hunting organizations and statewide hunting clubs around the country are pulling out of Colorado, and we expect this trend to accelerate rapidly.”

He estimated the channel’s departure would cost the state almost $1 million in 2013. The Outdoor Channel has already canceled one filming session originally slated for late March.

“Obviously, part of this is due to our own commitment to the right to keep and bear arms, but it also reflects three lawyers’ opinions that these laws are so poorly drafted and so designed to trap otherwise legal citizens into a crime … that it is simply too dangerous for us to film here,” Mr. Bane said.

The Outdoor Channel is the latest gun-affiliated company poised to leave Colorado if a package of Democrat-sponsored gun-control bills becomes law. The largest of those, Magpul Industries Corp. in Erie, Colo., a major ammunition-magazine producer, would cost Colorado as many as 600 jobs.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has said that he supports legislation to restrict magazine ammunition capacity, as well as bills to require universal background checks and charge gun buyers “a reasonable fee” for those checks.

In a late-night Senate floor debate Friday, several Democrats said concerns about preventing mass shootings like July’s Aurora movie theater massacre overrode their desire to keep gun-related businesses in Colorado.

“I respect their right to make a business decision and understand they’ve been seeking incentives from a variety of states,” state Sen. Mary Hodge, a Democrat, said. “I hope they respect our right to increase the safety of our citizens.”

The state Senate gave initial approval to five gun control bills Friday, but Democrats dropped two bills after a furious backlash over the concerns of rape victims.

The Senate advanced bills to extend background checks to private sales, limit ammunition magazine and shotgun capacity, require gun buyers to pay for background checks, ban online concealed-carry permitting, and compel domestic-violence offenders to relinquish their guns.

With the clock nearing midnight and a blizzard looming, legislators agreed to yank two of the most controversial measures: a bill to create legal liability for gun manufacturers and sellers, and another to ban concealed-carry on college campuses.

The liability bill was seen as an overreach, given that it conflicts with a 2005 federal law, while the concealed-carry bill became politically explosive after a Democratic legislator dismissed the concerns of rape victims who testified against it in committee.

One victim, Amanda Collins, testified last week that she was raped in a gun-free zone on campus after leaving her firearm behind.

“I know without a doubt in my mind that at some point I would have been able to stop my attack by using my firearm,” Ms. Collins said.

State Sen. Evie Hudak tried to debunk Ms. Collins’ account, arguing that “chances are that if you had had a gun then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you.”

Mrs. Hudak also said that “for every one woman who used a handgun in self-defense, 83 were murdered,” although the figure’s accuracy was later challenged by The Denver Post. The Democrat subsequently issued an apology, saying in a statement that she “didn’t mean to be insensitive.”

The exchange fueled a fresh outcry among gun-rights advocates and conservative women’s groups, who accused Democrats of caring more about supporting a national gun-control agenda than allowing Colorado women to protect themselves.

Senate Republicans groused throughout Friday’s floor session about the national influence on the state gun-control debate. Vice President Joseph R. Biden called Democratic legislators in February to push the bills, while Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, has been active in lobbying and advertising in favor of the gun-control measures.

“The Bloomberg dysfunctional hit parade just keeps coming,” said Mr. King during Friday’s debate.

 

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