Guns are poised to once again take center stage in the Colorado state legislature, as a bill to allow armed teachers in schools, which was blocked by Democrats last year, makes another appearance.
The difference this time, said last year’s Republican sponsor, state Sen. Ted Harvey, is that there is evidence that the presence of armed persons in schools can help shooting incidents from being worse than they might be.
Harvey’s 18-year-old son attends Arapahoe High School, where an armed student shot and killed a classmate in December before taking his own life. Law enforcement officials have said that when the shooter, 18-year-old James Pierson, saw the school’s armed security guard approach, he shot himself rather than continue his shooting spree.
Pierson was armed with a shotgun and several rounds of ammunition, as well as Molotov cocktails. He’d written the numbers of several classrooms on his arm, which authorities believe he meant to attack. Harvey’s son was in one of those classrooms during the shooting.
Pierson was believed to be intending to attack a coach with whom he had a dispute. Claire Davis, a student Pierson did not know, was shot in the head during the assault and later died of her injuries.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the armed guard was “a critical element to the shooter’s decision” to kill himself.
“It validated why I think an armed person in the school is a good thing,” Harvey told FoxNews.com.
The bill would give school districts the authority to allow teachers and staff members with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons to school. A similar bill was killed in committee last year, after heated testimony. Democrats, who control both chambers of the state legislature, said that arming teachers could result in accidental deaths if kids are caught in crossfire.
“I don’t like the idea of us arming everyone tooth and nail and shooting back and forth with kids in the middle, that’s my concern,” Democratic State Rep. Jessie Ulibarri said at the time.
Democrats are not likely to allow the bill to pass this year, according to Denver’s Fox31. They are more supportive of funding a “Safe 2 Tell” hotline for students to report suspicions about other kids.
“Data tells us that that anonymous reporting line prevents violent incidents,” Democratic Senate President Morgan Carroll told the station. “I think we will be interested in any new data we can get and anything else we can learn about how to reduce violence and keep our kids safe.”
Colorado’s largest teachers’ union also opposes the bill, preferring to hire more guidance counselors and increase training for teachers in identifying signs of mental stress in students.
Gun laws, which created turmoil throughout the past year in Colorado, are sure to be one of the main issues of the 2014 election.
“Democrats need to wake up to what they’re creating in public schools across Colorado,” Harvey told Fox31.
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