DENVER – The Douglas County Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday night to throw their support behind two bills that would expand guns in Colorado schools.
The Board of Education voted 4-3 to support both House Bill 1036, which would allow people to carry concealed handguns inside schools, and Senate Bill 5, which would establish a handgun safety training program for school employees who carry on campus.
HOUSE BILL 1036 ALLOWS CONCEALED CARRY ON CAMPUS WITHOUT PERMIT
House Bill 1036 would completely strip from state statute language that currently forbids people from carrying concealed handguns on public school grounds – even if the holder has a permit.
It strikes most of the language in Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-214, but upholds language in 18-12-105.5 that says it “shall not be an offense” if a person with a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun brings it on campus.
The bill also has language that says the enactment of the bill “is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety.”
The bill in sponsored by Rep. Patrick Neville, Rep. Kim Ransom and Sen. Tim Neville – all Republicans.
The other bill filed relating to concealed-carry weapons in schools, which the DougCo board voted to support Tuesday, is also sponsored by Rep. Patrick Neville, along with Sen. Chris Holbert.
SENATE BILL 5 WOULD ESTABLISH TRAINING COURSE FOR EMPLOYEES
Senate Bill 5 also allows some school employees to carry concealed handguns on campus, but carries more stringent requirements than HB 1036.
If passed and signed by the governor, the bill would allow school districts to work with county sheriffs to establish a training course and curriculum that would be taught to teachers with concealed-carry permits who would then be able to carry the weapons on campus, with some restrictions and parameters.
The bill would also apply not only to public schools, but also to charter schools and institute charter schools.
The first step in the process the bill creates would require the district board of education or charter board to work with the sheriff’s office to establish a handgun safety training course that includes any of the district’s or charter school’s existing emergency response methods. The teacher would already have to have a concealed-carry handgun permit.
Then, that person would have to meet a series of thresholds in order to be able to carry the gun while it is concealed while they are on campus.
The board of education or charter institute would first have to approve the curriculum for the training; the employee would have to complete the training; the employee would have to get permission from the board or charter institute to carry the concealed handgun on campus and would then have to notify said board or charter institute.
Also, the bill would allow each school board or charter institute to establish a maximum number of employees allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus and allow them to deny permission to an employee if that would put the school over the limit.
Concealed-carry handguns are allowed on many of Colorado’s college campuses.
Last month, the Hanover School District, southeast of Colorado Springs, voted to allow “qualified teachers’ to carry guns while on campus. District board members who supported the measure cited mass shootings and illegal marijuana grows nearby as reasons for enacting the policy. The district also cited its few school resource officers as reasons for allowing the program.
DOUGCO SCHOOLS HISTORY WITH ON-CAMPUS WEAPONS
Douglas County Public Schools have been at the forefront in Colorado’s expansion of guns in schools.
Last year, the district bought 10 semi-automatic rifles for its armed patrol division at a cost of $12,300.
At the time, the district said all eight of its officers had law enforcement experience and already carried handguns. They were required to undergo 20 hours of training before they were given the weapons.
The district’s director of safety and security at the time said the officers would only use the rifles under the same circumstances the sheriff’s office would.
"I can say from lessons learned and looking at all the situations that have happened across the country with shootings that having the correct tools, having the long rifles have helped out in situations," said Rich Payne, Director of Safety and Security for Douglas County Schools, at the time. He continued, "It's unfortunate but this is where we have come to."
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee debated House Bill 1036 Wednesday. Any update on a vote will be posted here.