DENVER - Colorado lawmakers say they’ll spend a great deal of time addressing gun violence during the 2013 legislative session.
The big question is what bills will be passed.
So far, three have been introduced.
One would allow teachers, staff and administrators, who have concealed carry permits, to carry guns in the classroom, as long as local school boards sign off on the deal.
Another would require business owners to allow employees with concealed carry permits to bring their guns to work, or provide one armed security guard for every fifty employees.
A third proposal would allow business owners, managers and employees to use deadly force against an intruder who breaks into the business, commits or intends to commit a crime inside or who might use physical force against the people there.
All three of the initial bills are sponsored by Republican lawmakers.
When asked if it’s a waste of time to introduce bills which allow guns in more places when both the House and Senate are controlled by Democrats, Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, said, “I would hope not, because this shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”
Refroe said he’s received countless emails from people who want to testify in favor of these bills.
“When you get those types of emails,” Refroe said, “then it’s worth bringing this forward to have the debate.”
Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, agrees.
“The Governor and the House Speaker both said mental health and guns are big issues and we need to have a discussion about them,” she said.
Saine said three recent incidents show that concealed weapons can help put an end to violence.
She said that the shooting at the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon, the mass shooting at Newtown and a shooting at a theater in San Antonio all ended once someone else with a gun showed up.
“If criminals know that there might be a chance that somebody else has equal force, they might not even enter the situation at all,” Saine said.
The Dacono Republican said she, too, has heard from constituents about the gun bills.
“A superintendent at a rural school district told me, ‘It’s preposterous to think that my only option for protecting kids is taking them to a hiding place and hoping the shooter doesn’t find us. We are 30 minutes away from any law enforcement,’” Saine said.
But Democrats say the focus should be on fewer guns, not more.
“So far, the solutions that Republicans have offered have been more guns,” said Senate President John Morse. “That’s going to result in more shootings and I’m for fewer shootings.”
Morse said gun violence is a serious issue and one that will take a great deal of their time this session.
“We will work with people inside and outside the capitol to find a solution,” he said.
Some students will be keeping a close watch on the debate.
When asked if teachers carrying guns in the classroom would make him feel safer, East High senior Rhys Williams said, “It would if the teacher who had the concealed carry permit was competent, not impulsive and knew how and when to use or not use a gun.”
Saine said she’d like to hear from students when the bill is heard in committee.
“We do need to hear from the public absolutely,” she said.