Another Gun Lobby Fail: Armed Teacher Bill Fizzles

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

AP's Kristen Wyatt reports on action yesterday in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee:

A Democratic House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to reject another Republican bill to expand gun rights. The bill would have allowed school districts to decide if they wanted to let teachers, not just designated school resource officers, carry concealed weapons…

Supporters of the idea were far outnumbered by teachers and students who packed the hearing to speak against the idea. [Pols emphasis]

"There's no reason for teachers to have guns in school when we're trying to keep guns out of schools in the first place," said Karina Vargas, who was paralyzed in 2010 from a shooting outside Aurora Central High.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Gun control advocates, who want fewer firearms in schools, not more, again packed the hearing room at the Capitol Tuesday, intent on demonstrating strength — and staunch opposition to the proposal to allow willing teachers and school staffers to serve as a first line of defense in the instance of a school shooting.

“We have officers who are trained in responding to these incidents, and now we’re adding to that people who don’t have that training,” said Michael Eaton, the chief of security for Denver Public Schools…

After all the supporters of the proposal had finished testifying, the committee continued to hear from the bill’s opponents for another two hours as gun control advocates — even knowing the committee’s vote was likely to go their way — pressed their points. [Pols emphasis]

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

​At this point, quite a number of Republican proposals to repeal the gun safety legislation passed in the 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly have been heard, but despite calls by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other groups for protests and mass testimony, nothing like the pandemonium seen at the Capitol last year has materialized. Despite excuses now being made, this does not appear to have been the intention of the gun lobby, who urged their supporters to turn out in large numbers or risk "emboldening the left." 

It doesn't matter if gun rights supporters now consider their protests "futile" in the face of Democratic control of the legislature–this is an election year, and the failure to hold together the angry momentum they worked so hard to cultivate in 2013 is a major turnaround that will hurt Republicans this November. That failure is already evident in polling that shows public support has actually grown in Colorado for universal background checks and the magazine limit law, even as the gun lobby assailed them 24/7.

As for this particular piece of legislation, allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, it's been suggested to us that the whole emotional push by Republicans for this bill in the wake of last December's shooting at Arapahoe High School may have been a misguided waste of everyone's time. In 2003, the GOP-controlled Colorado legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act of 2003. This legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Owens, appears to allow school districts to designate anyone they wish as a "security officer" (not an official title that requires any training, mind you), and the law specifically allows persons so designated to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

A permittee who is employed or retained by contract by a school district as a school security officer may carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvement erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school while the permittee is on duty;

As we understand it, this 2003 law allows school districts to designate "security officers" who can carry concealed weapons. And if they really wanted, there's no reason why that couldn't be teachers. Note that we're not making a judgment about the efficacy of arming teachers, which as you can read above, far more witnesses turned out to testify against than in favor of. What we're saying is, it appears that yesterday's debate over arming teachers, in addition to being emotionally manipulative so soon after the Arapahoe High School shooting, was superfluous.

And that kind of puts the proverbial cherry on top of their failure.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Robb says:

    Superfluous: bringing legislation to committee that has zero chance of advancing. The point of governance is governance, IMO. If they want to campaign, the gundamentalists should do it on their own dime.

    So what's the dollar figure attached to these three days of GOP time-wasting? What's the gross cost per bluster?

    • doremi says:

      Being impossible to pass doesn't stop the pro-gun rights guys.  They bring these bills up year after year.

      HB1063 Stand Your Business Ground (Make My Day at Business, or Use of Deadly Force at Business Location) is on its 9th annual return visit this year. 

      SB038  Governor's Emergency Firearms Powers was defeated Monday for the 4th year (skipped 2013, too busy on other things).

  2. mamajama55 says:

    "gundamentalists". I like it. And, whew. Schools are still gun-free zones, except for the School Resource Officers, who are trained. 

  3. Republican 36 says:

    Perhaps many people realize the gun lobby over played its hand last year. The hysteria fomented by those groups that through last year's legislation the government was coming to your house to take away your guns never materialized. Needless to say, the legislation never even came close to doing that. There is support for gun rights in Colorado and around the country but like anything else, once a group asserts positions on an issue and they don't come true, their credibility is ruined.

  4. hawkeye says:

    How about reducing the number of school administrators, and other staff outside the classroom, and replacing them with off duty law enforcement officers, one per school.  Non-classroom staff is already approaching 50% in many school districts. Or, how about increasing classroom size by 1 or 2 students and add armed school resource officers.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      How about having public schools that are fully engaged in the education of students???

      (. . . as opposed to being the latest sales quota prospects for weapons manufacturers . . . )

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      How about just getting rid of public education and send the entitled few to Chistian Madrassa's and boost corporation profits by letting them use everyone else as unskilled child labor?  That's a conservative's wet dream don't you think?  No more science.  No more teachers.  No more taxes (boo).  To hell with a meritocracy when the rich deserve to rule us all.  We don need no stinkin education for our kids.

    • mamajama55 says:


      You'll be surprised to know that I, a genuine progressive union-thug teacher libber, supports many of your proposals. I like having armed school resource officers on campus. They are trained in their weapons,  they help keep the peace in the hallways and campus, and, because kids like them and talk with them, they often have more information on actual gang activity or drug selling rings than the PDs would otherwise have. SROs are a great use of community policing dollars.

      And I'm all about getting more adults in the classroom, as opposed to sitting in an administration office. The old Title 1 Federal program worked to remediate low-skilled students because it included funds for adult paraprofessionals in the classroom, and small class sizes.

      Unfortunately, the "educate for profit" model has caught on, and any fly-by-night company with a PhD on hand and a good slick curriculum can promote itself as the silver bullet to raise test scores for desperate districts. But that's a different discussion.

      • gertie97 says:

        Agreed, mama, that there should be more actual cops in schools. So all these gundamentalists need to do is get their county commissions and city councils to put measures on local ballots to raise the sales tax in order to pay more cops for the schools. Just think — all those gundies out campaigning for a tax increase.

        Naw, they'd have to put their money where their mouths are.



      • langelomisterioso says:

        Couple o fthings. You seem to be saying that the peace-keeping ability of the resource officers is more a factor of their interaction with the students as people than it is of their being armed. and let me make the point that being"trained" with a weapon does not mean they're going to make the correct decision nor does it mean that every round they fire will find the correct target.

        My thought has long been that the major deficit of the American education system is that we,as a society, have never reached a conclusion as to what constitutes a "good"education or a "well-educated" person. Lacking such targets teachers are at a loss as to what and how to teach. I further believe that teachers, being on the front lines so to speak should be the final arbiters of the design of curricula and pedagogical systems.

  5. doremi says:

    At the end of testimony last night, Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) offered an amendment that struck the entire bill, but put in language allowing for armed security guards at charter schools. Democrats allowed the amendment on but voted against the bill (ending in its demise).   Rep. Carol Murray revealed the action for the ruse it was by stating we need to have a debate on this very important bill on the house floor (i.e., arming teachers…not charter school issue).  She revealed that intent was to get the bill out of committee, put it on the house floor and amend it back to its original language (which one would suspect anyways).   It is likely that a separate bill with a narrower title will arrive as a late bill to address that issue, if truly needed.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.