Tue January 15, 2013

Concealed Weapons Bill Among First for Colorado Lawmakers

Governor John Hickenlooper and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pledged to tackle gun laws during this year’s legislative session and the first bill up is Senate bill 9.

State capitol reporter Bente Birkeland reports for All Things Considered

Introduced by two Republicans, the bill would allow school boards to create policies allowing concealed handguns in K through 12 schools. 

“Creating gun free zones in our schools hasn’t worked. So it’s time for us to be honest,” says bill sponsor Scott Renfroe of Greeley.

He says criminals are always going to break the law, and he thinks lives could’ve been saved in places like Newtown Connecticut if teachers had been trained to use concealed handguns.

“This would give them an opportunity to defend themselves, which is what the second amendment is about, and to protect the students in their class.”

Republicans will need support from at least one Democrat on the Senate Judiciary committee to move the bill forward, and right now Senator Jessie Ulibarri (D-Commerce City) says he’s keeping an open mind.

“Most folks in Colorado feel a bit raw with the year we had, with the Aurora shooting and the tragedy in Sandy Hook. And so I think as we enter into any conversation about public safety and gun safety we have to listen and hear what folks want us to do.”

Democrats are also planning their own gun measures. Two lawmakers from Boulder – including Senator Rollie Heath – will introduce a bill later this month to ban concealed weapons university classrooms.

“We feel strongly that guns do not have a place in a university classroom,” says Heath.

The University of Boulder now allows concealed guns after a Colorado Supreme Court ruling overturned a campus wide gun ban. Heath says the same thing applies to K through 12 schools and he doesn’t think state law should change.

Other gun control bills in the works include universal background checks for all gun sales, something Governor John Hickenlooper called for in his state of the state address. Currently background checks aren’t needed for private sales. Another would ban high capacity ammunition magazines.