state legislature

Bill that would OK gun training for school employees passes Senate

Teachers and others with a concealed carry permit could bring firearms on campus

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A bill that would allow teachers and other public school employees who have the proper permit to carry a handgun on campus after completing safety training has passed the state Senate.

Meanwhile, a measure that would have allowed anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry a handgun on public school grounds was defeated in the House.

Both bills were introduced and supported by Republicans, who control the Senate, but opposed by Democrats, who hold a majority in the House.

Senate Bill 17-005 is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock. It would allow a county sheriff to provide a safety-training course to any employee of any public elementary, middle, junior high or high school who has a permit to carry a concealed handgun, a summary of the bill says. Once that training is completed, the employee would be permitted to carry the handgun on campus.

It was approved 18-17, a party-line vote, on Feb. 6. It will now face an uphill battle in the House.

Holbert said his bill encourages a greater level of training for all people who are armed in public schools, including law enforcement and staff who are hired as private security guards.

As part of the bill, a county sheriff would consult with the school district in the sheriff's county to establish a curriculum for the safety-training course. Individual school districts would need to approve the program set up by the sheriff and would be able to cap the number of employees who are permitted to carry a gun at each school.

House Bill 17-1036, which would have changed the law to allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to bring a handgun on campus, was voted down on a 6-3 party-line vote in a House committee on Feb. 8. Its sponsors were Patrick Neville and state Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Acres Green, and state Sen. Tim Neville, R-Jefferson County.

"I believe teachers should focus on teaching and nurturing our children, not act as armed security," state Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, said.

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