Senate panel kills guns-in-schools measure

DENVER — The first gun bill to be debated during this year’s legislative session was shot down Monday, but the issue is far from dead.

While the Senate Judiciary Committee killed a bill to allow school boards to adopt policies to allow teachers and other employees to have concealed weapons on school grounds, others around the Capitol called for outright bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said what really needs to happen is a culture change when it comes to gun violence, not measures that encourage the use of more weapons.

“Adding guns adds shootings, and I’m for fewer shootings as I think are most of the Democrats,” said Morse, a former Colorado Springs police officer. “Adding guns to schools isn’t going to help. We have guns in lots of different places ... and they are the scenes of shootings as well. Plus, it just creates a culture of violence. We need to try to create a culture of nonviolence.”

Republicans, however, say that so-called gun-free zones such as public schools just don’t work, and only invite bad people to do bad things because they know they can achieve their goals.

Sens. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, said their measure is intended to provide a deterrent to prevent shootings before they happen.

“They know the good guys don’t have guns,” Harvey said. “My wife is one of those good guys. She’s a teacher. My wife and my kids are sitting ducks.”

The two senators said no measure is going to solve all issues in preventing shootings, such as last year’s incidents in an Aurora movie theater or at a Newtown, Conn., school, but it makes sense to put up as many roadblocks as possible, the senators said.

They said the bill doesn’t require any teacher to carry a weapon, or any school board to adopt a policy allowing it.

Regardless, the measure died on a 3-2 party-line vote.

Meanwhile, a House Democrat is to introduce two gun-related measures later this week, including one to limit certain high-capacity gun magazines.

Rep. Rhonda Fields, whose district includes the Aurora theater where 12 people were killed and 58 wounded, is also expected to introduce a measure requiring background checks in all gun purchases, including private ones.

Morse said more measures are to come, including bills aimed at improving mental health programs and involuntarily committing people if they could become a danger to others.


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