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Campaign 2000: Guns and crime

Billionaire backs gun-curb measure

Andrew McKelvey reported set to pour cash into campaign for Amendment 22

By Dick Foster
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Internet billionaire Andrew McKelvey will launch a massive ad campaign in Colorado this week supporting Amendment 22, which would require background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows.

The ads will be sponsored by Americans for Gun Safety, a new national organization formed by McKelvey, the 65-year-old patriarch of the internet Web site

He plans ad campaigns in both Colorado and Oregon, the two states with ballot proposals to tighten gun controls by requiring background checks at gun shows, Newsweek magazine reports in this week's issue.

McKelvey announced creation of his new organization last week at a news conference in Oakland, Calif.

Already, he's put more than $12 million into his organization and is expected to provide millions more, the Newsweek article stated.

Americans for Gun Safety has contributed $80,000 to Safe Colorado, the principal backers of Amendment 22, through a donation to the Tides Foundation of California that was forwarded to the Colorado group.

But the McKelvey group's ads were developed independently of Safe Colorado.

The ads scheduled to run in Colorado and Oregon will feature a "prominent Republican official" speaking in support of the gun control initiatives, and are characterized by Newsweek as "made to make headlines."

"I don't know anything about the ads," Safe Colorado spokesman Tom Mauser said Sunday.

No one from the Colorado group has seen the ads or knows what they will say, Mauser said.

"But I certainly don't think they're going to say anything that we're going to be greatly bothered by," Mauser said. "They clearly know what's going on in Colorado and what our issue is."

Americans for Gun Safety and Safe Colorado share a moderate stand on gun control, favoring reasonable restrictions and background checks on firearms sales, but not bans on all guns.

"As a new organization, we haven't defined all of what that means yet, and I'm not sure Americans for Gun Safety has defined all of what that means," Mauser said. "Certainly, on a modest issue like closing the gun show loophole, I'm sure we're in agreement."

A spokesman for McKelvey's group, Jonathan Cowan, told Newsweek, "We support the right of law-abiding citizens to own and use guns, flat out, but we also believe that with the right to own guns comes responsibilities."

Contact Dick Foster at (719) 633-4442 or

October 2, 2000