Dems kill measure to allow teachers to carry concealed guns in class

Judiciary Committee votes 7 - 4 against bill

DENVER - Democrats just said "no" to allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons in school.

After a marathon 6 hour public hearing, the House Judiciary Committee defeated HB 14-1157 on a 7 - 4 party line vote.

The sponsor, Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Weld County, said his bill didn't mandate that teachers be allowed to carry concealed weapons, rather it would have authorized school boards to develop policies that would allow employees to carry a concealed weapons on school grounds, if they hold a valid permit.

There was emotional testimony on both sides.

Karina Vargas, the survivor of a drive by shooting in front of Aurora Central High School in 2010 testified against the bill.

"One moment I was standing there talking to my friends, the next moment I was unable to move," Vargas said. "If a teacher was there with a gun not knowing who was responsible for the shooting, there could easily have been more injuries or fatalities."

Steve Reams was also caught in the crossfire of a shooting at his school in Amarillo, TX in 1993.

"I did not get shot," he said, "but only by the grace of God."

Reams, now a bureau chief at the Weld County Sheriff's Office, testified in favor of Humphrey's bill saying that if a gunman enters a school, time is of the essence.

"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."

"I don't think it's a good idea," said East High student Dylan Salzman. "I think it will distract from the learning environment."

Salzman told 7NEWS that if guns are allowed in the classroom, there would be an increased chance of someone getting hurt accidentally.

Jeff Lemons, an IT specialist and security officer at Frontier Academy charter school, told lawmakers that under current law he's not allowed to carry a gun on campus.

"If a shooting or some kind of armed incident happens at our school," he said, "I will be running to that danger. I currently cannot protect myself adequately because I'm not a (public school) district employee."

Lemons asked the committee to change the law.

Lawmakers amended Humphrey's bill to include charter school security officers, but the committee then defeated the overall bill.

Committee Chairman Daniel Kagen said, "It's bad policy to allow guns in the classroom."

After the measure was voted down, Kagen adjourned the committee before holding another vote to postpone the measure indefinitely.

He tried to reconvene the committee, but Republicans told him it was already adjourned.

That means there is still a slight chance that the amended bill could be brought up again later in the session.

The hearing followed a recent Quinnipiac University Poll which showed Coloradans favor arming teachers by a 50 - 45 margin.

The poll of 1,139 voters was conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 and had a margin of error of 2.9 percent.

Democrats say school security should be left to armed officers, not teachers.

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