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Arming teachers in classrooms: the debate

Like much of the country, the people of Colorado are divided over whether more guns will equate to more safety. In a recent poll, 50% of people in Colorado support the idea of allowing teachers and staff members in schools to carry handguns and concealed weapons. The split in opinion is squarely along gender lines: in general, men favor arming teachers and staff while women do not. The opinions also fall along party lines, with the majority of Republicans supporting the idea and the majority of Democrats opposing it.

Briggsdale School is in rural Colorado and is approximately a twenty-minute response time for police and EMTs. School Superintendent Rick Mondt was an Administrator in Jefferson County in 1999 when the Columbine High School shooting occurred. After the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut occurred, Mondt developed a safety plan that allows teachers and staff members to carry concealed handguns.

Dove Creek and Dolores County schools are also in a rural school district. There, the school board members voted to allow the top two administrators to carry firearms to school because the school district is too small to afford full-time security. However, it is not too small to have security risks: in 2009, two teens allegedly plotted to kill the principal of Dove Creek.

Your Denver Personal Injury Attorney reports that tragedy struck again in December 2013. A teenager attending Arapahoe high school walked into school with a loaded firearm and killed a classmate before turning the gun on himself. Republican State Senator Ted Harvey’s son attends Arapahoe high school, and he introduced HB 14-1157. Your Denver Personal Injury Attorney states that the bill would authorize a school board to adopt a written policy allowing employees to carry concealed weapons on school grounds as long as they have a permit. What the bill authorizes is very similar to what Briggsdale and Dove Creek schools have already implemented. Employees would not be required to carry weapons but would be allowed to do so as long as they had a valid permit.

Following six hours of emotional testimony on both sides of the argument, HB 14-1157 was voted down 7-4 along party lines on February 11, 2014. There is some thought that an amended version may be introduced later in the legislative session. In a radio poll conducted by 7News in Colorado, a whopping 91% of callers favored allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons. So why was the bill defeated?

Your Denver Personal Injury Attorney notes that one of the main areas of disagreement with the bill was with the lack of training; the bill does not require any training for the teachers and staff at schools beyond what is required to get a permit. Law enforcement personnel pointed out that confronting the type of situations they hope to prevent–mass shootings by well-armed suicidal gunmen–requires training. Without it, more guns could simply lead to more injuries and/or more deaths. Another main disagreement is more ideological; let teachers be teachers, not a militia, and schools be places of learning, not compounds.

If you have any questions regarding the safety plan at your local school or the security issues in your school district, contact your Denver Personal Injury Attorney at Levine Law today. 

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