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Colorado court clears way for gun control measure

DENVER (Reuters) -- An initiative to tighten restrictions on gun sales at gun shows, which was prompted by the Columbine school massacre, can stay on the ballot in Colorado in November, the state's highest court said Tuesday.

The state Supreme Court threw out a challenge by gun rights advocates, who had claimed that the signatures on a petition calling for the referendum were invalid.

The initiative would require criminal background checks on gun buyers at gun shows. Currently only federally licensed dealers must conduct checks.

"They're all out. It's a dead end for the gun lobby to challenge (the measure) before the people get their say," said Mark Grueskin, a lawyer for the group pushing the initiative.

Calls to change the law grew after it was discovered that two underage teenage gunmen with help from a friend bought weapons used in last year's Columbine massacre at gun shows.

Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, killed 13 people and injured 23 others before killing themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

Efforts to change the law in the Colorado legislature failed, prompting proponents to go the route of the ballot box, a popular action in the western United States.

The voter initiative was launched by SAFE Colorado. SAFE is an acronym for Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, a bi-partisan group.

Gun rights advocates have said they will launch a constitutional challenge if the measure is approved, as recent polls indicate it will.

In their last challenge, gun rights advocates said the measure should not go on the ballot because signatures were gathered before the Supreme Court approved the wording. But the high court said signatures were valid because they were collected after a state board approved the wording.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
ELECTION 2000

WHAT'S AT STAKE

VIDEO
Watch selected policy speeches and campaign commercials from the major presidential candidates.

WHERE THEY STAND
See where George W. Bush and Al Gore stand on the major issues.

THE STATES
Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? Find out with these state political and election facts.

POLLS
Check out the latest numbers or dig back into the poll archives.

CALENDAR
Take a look at the key events in the election season with this calendar.

FOLLOW THE MONEY
How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.

COMMUNITY

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RESULTS AND EXIT POLLS
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RACES
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Tuesday, October 10, 2000


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