The gun measure is Senate Bill 13-009, which would allow school boards and charter school boards to adopt policies allowing a district or school employee to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds if that person holds a valid concealed-weapons permit. The sponsors are GOP Sens. Scott Renfroe of Greeley and Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch and freshman Rep. Lori Saine of Dacono. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, not Education.
The bill isn’t expected to make it far in the Democratic-held Senate, of course, but it’s the first chance Colorado Republicans have had to carry out the recent call to action by National Rifle Association director Wayne LaPierre. In the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, LaPierre came out for armed guards in all schools.
We’ve been wondering how the stated desire for essentially more police officers of the kind already assigned to many Colorado schools–which would necessitate funding to pay for them–was going to reconcile with the simultaneous desire by (generally speaking, anyway) the same conservatives to cut public sector funding of every kind. As you can see, this bill neatly sidesteps that problem by allowing existing school employees with concealed carry permits to bring their personal guns. No costly unionized certified public safety officers needed!
One little problem, though: as soon as you start talking about how people with guns around your kids don’t need this or that certification, you’re going to lose a lot of soccer moms.
Remember also, as we pointed out last month, that Columbine High School did have an armed police officer on campus in April of 1999, who was unable to stop the killers there. Combined with the lack of requirements other than a concealed carry permit, and this is an especially problematic solution in search of a problem. Obviously, the bill is going to die. But Democrats need to be sure in our gun-friendly state that they thoroughly explain and debunk the underlying issues behind it. This issue will always be fraught with emotion and public misconceptions, and Democrats have an obligation to take that educational challenge seriously.
Politically, the less rational this debate becomes, the worse it goes for Democrats.