Concealed weapons bill fails in committee

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The measure would’ve allowed for concealed carry on school properties

By Sal Christ

A GOP bill that would have allowed concealed carry on Colorado school grounds was lost in committee last Wednesday after House Democrats rejected the measure in a 6-3 vote along party lines.
House Bill 1037, which was sponsored by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and co-sponsored by his father, state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, was one of three gun-related bills heard by the Democrat-controlled House Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs during an emotional public hearing Feb. 21 that spanned nearly nine hours. Dozens of community members, gun control advocates and gun violence survivors showed up to testify during the hearing, filling the main room and two overflow rooms.
The younger Neville, who survived the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, told the committee at the outset that the bill was intended to “give teachers the right to do more” and to deter would-be mass shooters, and referenced how his own experience had informed its crafting.
While the bill drew angry protestors outside the Capitol building, including several Colorado Ceasefire members who participated in a lie-in, inside the bills drew feedback from both sides of the issue.
Columbine survivors Evan Todd and Jennifer Thompson both voiced support for the bill with Todd recounting the experience of sitting in the library listening to “people being murdered and waiting for help to come,” only to have no help come in the immediacy.
Thompson, who was trapped in a classroom with teacher Dave Sanders, said she believed Sanders and others would have survived if one of her teachers “had a firearm on them” that day.
Jane Dougherty, who lost her sister Mary Sherlach in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and Tom Mauser, who became a staunch gun control advocate after losing his son, Daniel, at Columbine, were among those who spoke in opposition of the bill.
“There are numerous reasons for opposing this bill, including the absurd notion that most killers who were usually crazed would care if there were deterrents or not and also the absurd notion that we should just allow any person with a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon into our schools,” said Mauser.
Mauser also expressed frustration that legislators brought the bill to the legislature again; the concealed carry bill has been brought to the legislature at least twice before — only for Democrats to reject it every time.
Ultimately, the bill failed alongside House Bill 1015, which would’ve repealed a 2013 state law limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds, and House Bill 1074, which would’ve allowed business owners and employees to use deadly force against intruders — similar to the “make my day” law for homeowners.
State Rep. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, one of three Republicans on the House Committee on State, Veterans and Military Affairs, said afterward that while the outcome was expected, the issue remains the same.
“Violence to innocent children that results in their deaths brings out the passion in everyone and we feel for the victims,” said Leonard. “We’re trying to figure out how to bring about a safe environment for children to learn in. Some people think it’s legislating — that you can legislate away violence. … The resolution is a whole culture of life that has to beat down a culture of death and it’s not an answer that anyone likes.”
While testimony was being heard at the state Capitol last Wednesday, another conversation about gun violence was taking place at the White House. President Donald J. Trump and others engaged in a listening session with victims’ families and survivors of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and Columbine — a response, in part, to the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people.
A day later, Trump told House Minority Leader Neville during a meeting at the White House that he agreed with him on allowing guns in schools.
Contact reporter Sal Christ at sal@evergreenco.com or at 303-350-1035. Follow her on Twitter at @decriture, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/salchristjourno.