For the third time in two weeks, Colorado Democrats reasserted their agenda on gun control, shooting down Republican attempts to revive or repeal legislation enacted during the last legislative session.
On Tuesday, they killed a GOP-sponsored measure to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons in school. A similar bill was debated last year, with a similar result — both measures failed to make it out of Democratic-controlled committees.
The bill didn’t mandate arming teachers, but allowed schools to develop policies allowing it if teachers hold valid concealed carry permits. Proponents argued that law enforcement might be too far away to respond to a school shooting in time to minimize casualties.
In December, an armed student killed one person before turning his rifle on himself. Law enforcement officials credited the presence of an armed security guard, who was closing in on the suspect within minutes of his arrival at Arapahoe High School, with preventing what could have been a more deadly rampage.
Not all schools can afford to hire guards, however, and some areas in rural Colorado are 45 minutes or more from an armed response by sheriffs deputies.
“Unless an officer is right there on school grounds when an incident breaks out, the likelihood of getting there in time to help the kids is quite difficult,” Steve Reams, a bureau chief at the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, testified.
At more than 4,000 square miles, Weld County is one of Colorado’s largest, extending to the borders of Wyoming and Nebraska. Sheriff John Cooke, testifying during another bill this week that would have repealed limits on the size of ammunition magazines, said response times for his deputies have been as high as two hours in some circumstances.
Rep. Steve Humphrey, who represents Weld County, sponsored the bill.
“The status quo is unacceptable,” he told the Associated Press. “We need to give our schools every option for protecting our children.”
Opponents included a group called Moms Demand Action, many of whom came to the capitol with their kids and strollers, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this week, Democrats killed the bill that would have repealed the ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 15 rounds. Last week, they defeated a measure that would have repealed a law requiring background checks on all gun transfers.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Colorado voters approve of arming teachers by a slim margin of 50-45 percent.
Humphrey’s bill was killed on a 7-4 party line vote.
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