It was the first Republican attempt to respond to mass shootings in Aurora and an elementary school in Connecticut, and the first of many rounds of fights over gun control this year.
Monday’s debate points to a culture clash at the Capitol that will make it difficult to achieve consensus as the Legislature tackles gun control for the first time since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
One side says the country has too many guns, while the other side says there are not enough…
[GOP Sen. Ted] Harvey’s Senate Bill 9 would have let school boards allow teachers to carry concealed weapons. It failed on a 3-2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Most of the two dozen witnesses testified in favor of arming teachers, but several opponents said guns don’t increase safety.
After the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and certainly as anyone who lived here in Colorado after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 will tell you, there's a certain knee-jerk (but momentarily very strong) appeal in arming…well, everyone we reasonably believe is not going to intentionally start shooting at little kids.
It takes a period of sober deliberation to realize that simply arming lots of people in response to these tragedies–especially people with no law enforcement training as Senate Bill 9 would have done–is a silly idea, not to mention dangerous and irresponsible. Given the natural rate of accidents and other incidents involving firearms wherever they are allowed, Senate Bill 9 was practically guaranteed to result in more firearm deaths in schools. During testimony yesterday, the Colorado Education Association, having polled its member teachers, said their members consider arming teachers the least effective way to reduce gun violence in schools. Aren't they the ones who would know?
A recent poll in response to the National Rifle Association's similar proposal to place armed security in every school, fully 64% of respondents opposed the idea of "giving teachers guns." Half oppose the NRA's proposal even to have a single armed guard in every school. The fact is, there are already armed police officers stationed at many public schools in Colorado–as there was at Columbine on the day of the shootings there.
In short, folks, these kinds of "solutions" to the problem of school gun violence are not just bad ideas. This is really absurd and backward public policy, of a kind that should never be introduced by responsible lawmakers under any circumstances. These are not proposals we would have seen from the GOP in previous generations, or for that matter anyone not on the absolute fringe of the debate before now. Today, nonsense like Senate Bill 9 is introduced with a straight face and defended along party lines, even with the outcome never in doubt.
Yes, Republicans are standing up for a "core constituency." But they are also making fools of themselves.