Gun sale measure leads polls in pro-gun, post-Columbine Colorado
SNYDER, Colorado (CNN) -- At the annual Snyder Bible Church shoot, Pastor Rich Dunn hands down a family tradition to his 5-year-old son Jonathan. Guns, hunting and shooting are a natural part of life for many here on Colorado's prairie.
"It became part of my father-son relationship to go hunting every year, and that kind of gave us something to do together -- like maybe people in the city would go to athletic events," Dunn said.
Pastor Rich Dunn coaches his 5-year-old son Jonathan during target practice
For the most part, Coloradans strongly support the Second Amendment, guaranteeing a right to bear arms. But the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School outside Denver changed the way many feel about guns -- and that change in sentiment could prompt state voters to change legal provisions allowing firearms purchases at gun shows without a background check.
"My son Daniel was killed in Columbine High School, and we're going to close the gun show loophole in Colorado," said Tom Mauser, a leading supporter of the ballot measure.
The initiative would require background checks on all firearms purchased at gun shows. Currently in Colorado, a background check is only required when buying a gun from a licensed dealer. Mauser took a leave of absence from his job to push a state ballot initiative after similar efforts in the Colorado legislature and Congress failed.
"The people who bought the guns for the killers at Columbine ... went to a gun show," Mauser said. "They didn't go to a gun dealer. They went where they would not have left a record, they wouldn't leave a trace, there would be no questions asked."
He found support from the Million Mom March organization, which captured national attention with its demonstration in Washington against gun violence earlier this year. The group chose Denver for its first national conference.
Current polls show Colorado residents overwhelmingly support the initiative, and it has bipartisan support -- including that of many gun owners. Supporters among national gun control groups have poured more than $100,000 into Colorado to support the initiative.
But the initiative faces strong opposition from people like Dudley Brown, of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Brown says the initiative would rob gun owners of a basic freedom.
"It creates a registration of gun owners, and we think that's the next step towards confiscation," Brown said.
Proponents say that's not their goal, but Brown isn't convinced.
"We're under assault right now," he said. "We feel like the Jews did in Nazi Germany."
Opponents are backed by at least five groups, including the National Rifle Association -- which just contributed $75,000 to the effort. More NRA money is expected to mount a full offensive on radio and television.