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Colorado teachers flock to gun classes

Colorado teachers flock to gun classes

This article originally appeared on heartland.org.

At a free class this spring, more than 200 Colorado teachers became certified to carry a concealed weapon, but lawmakers turned down legislation to let them carry it in school.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RGMO) held its annual free class for teachers on February 28. In 2013, 300 teachers took the class. “They came here for training tonight because they want the next Adam Lanza to face the barrel of a .45,” RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown said then, referring to a teen who shot 20 schoolchildren and six school staff in 2012.

“As with all so-called ‘gun-free zones,’ they are actually just criminal safe zones,” said Joe Neville, RMGO’s political director. “And that’s what public schools are. They become prime targets for criminals to come in and slaughter the most innocent among all of us, our children, and the teachers that are with them.”

2013 saw at least 80 bills in 33 states related to arming teachers and school staff, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Seven had become law by November. Now more than a dozen states allow trained staff to carry weapons inside K-12 schools.

Legislation Under Fire
“This is a great step forward in the mindset of teachers, who tend to be women,” said Jennifer Pinnell, The Heartland Institute’s vice president of development, who witnessed the class and is considering teaching similar classes in the future.

Colorado House Bill 1157, sponsored by state Rep. Steve Humphrey (R-Severance), would have let school boards allow employees with a permit to carry a gun inside their schools by designating those individuals Safety Officers. Fifty percent of Coloradans supported the idea and 45 percent opposed it ina February poll. A House committee killed it on party lines, 7-4.

“All of our bills are dying in committee, because the Democrats control both houses and the governor’s mansion,” said RGMO spokeswoman Danielle Thompson.

In 2013, the Colorado legislature passed three major gun restrictions. Lawmakers then shot down attempts to repeal those laws, so voters recalled and ousted three state senators who supported gun restrictions, including the Senate president.

Teachers Learn Defense
In the class, teachers “come to learn what [concealed carry] means, what they need to do to get a concealed carry permit,” Neville said.  “Right now the law doesn’t allow teachers to concealed carry into the classroom.”

That’s a mistake, Neville and Pinnell agreed. Neville said armed attackers would be less likely to attack a school if they knew teachers could be armed for defense.

Nearly every mass shooting over the past 30 years has taken place in a gun-free zone, Pinnell noted. The teachers she saw at the class were seeking the means to protect themselves and their charges.

“We trust teachers with our children, to teach them, to help shape them, to have an impact on them for the rest of their lives,” but not to protect them, said Neville.

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