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Are They Serious?

Photo by Walker Dougherty

Photo by Walker Dougherty

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In Colorado’s House of Representatives at this moment, a bill is being discussed which amends part of Colorado’s constitution concerning guns and concealed carry permits. The bill would make it legal for concealed carry permit holders to carry handguns into public schools.

This is a terrible idea. House Bill 17-1036 basically slashes all provisions of section 18-24-214 of Colorado’s constitution, which states that concealed carry permit holders are forbidden from carrying guns on public school property unless it is locked in their vehicle, or they are contracted by the school as a security officer. If this amendment passes, it will mean that any random person with a concealed carry permit could legally carry a gun into a public school.

Photo by Luke Liffengren

The rationale behind it is that the presence of armed citizens will provide a line of protection in the event of a school shooting, that if someone comes in with the intent of harming students, a “good samaritan” with a concealed handgun will be able to stop it. There are a few problems with this idea.

First, it pre-supposes that all concealed carry permit holders are of sound mind and are law-abiding citizens. If one conducts a bit of research, one will find that this is obviously not the case, as at least 23 concealed carriers have committed mass shootings in the U.S. since 2009. (Concealed Carry Killers). Background checks nationwide are flawed, and occasionally allow criminals and the mentally-ill to to trickle through the system unnoticed; applicants can lie about their criminal history information on their forms (Violence Policy Center), and since states often require background checks to be over with within 60 days, the permits are often issued by default before the background checks are completed (Los Angeles Times).

The second problem with the bill is it assumes that there would be adults, who don’t have official business with the school, on campuses at any given time with guns waiting around for a shooting to happen. That’s just not reality. Parents come to drop their kids off in the mornings, and then they leave. They pick their kids up at the end of the day, and then they leave. Unless the authorities are aware of the reason for their presence, they don’t stick around without raising suspicions.

The security guards at Conifer agree that it is a bad idea to allow random people with guns to be on school property. “There’s a lot of training that goes into having a concealed weapon, and crucial decision making, which untrained people are not capable of exercising,” says Phil Deeds. Security guard Ernie Martinez concurs, stating that “I’m okay with teachers having concealed weapons, but not visitors.” And that’s the third problem. The bill does not add any language to specify whether or not a concealed carrier needs permission from the school to carry on school grounds, it is open-ended and implies application to a​ nyone​ with a permit.

This bill is irresponsible and dangerous, and should lead citizens of Colorado to seriously question the judgement of their elected officials. The political process is messy, but legislation like this, which has the potential to put kids in danger, ought to make citizens and eligible voters rethink their apathy and consider getting involved.

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