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State Sen.: Arapahoe H.S. shooting ‘validates’ arming school teachers

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DENVER -- Sen. Ted Harvey isn't sponsoring legislation that would allow Colorado school districts to arm teachers and staff members holding concealed weapons permits, as he did last year.

"It's too personal," he said Monday. "It's just a little too close to home."

Harvey isn't the sponsor because of what happened last December when a student opened fire at Arapahoe High School, killing Claire Davis, 17, before turning his gun on himself.

"My son's a student at Arapahoe," he explained. "He was right across the hall from where the shooter was attacking in the library."

The shooter, Karl Pierson, had four classroom numbers written in pen on his wrist, likely the rooms he planned to visit on his shooting spree. Harvey's son's classroom number was among them.

"It's a horrible situation for our students and teachers to be in," he said. "Thankfully, they had a school resource officer on campus who was armed with a gun and was able to confront the shooter in 80 seconds, forcing him to take his own life."

That armed school resource officer, in Harvey's view, was the difference between what happened at his son's school and what happened a year earlier at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed when gunman Adam Lanza opened fire.

"When you have gun free zones, the only people who are able to have guns are those who want to break the law," said Harvey. "The situation at Arapahoe High, where an armed officer was able to settle things quickly, validates our legislation."

Democrats killed his bill a year ago, and may do so again even after what happened at Arapahoe High School.

The proposal is the same: allowing public school districts and charter school boards more flexibility to determine whether they want to allow teachers and staff members who hold concealed carry permits to bring their weapons into the classroom.

"Not every school can afford to pay a school resource office," Harvey said. "This would allow those rural districts, places where a lot of people own guns and are trained with guns, to determine what's best for their communities and their kids."

But there are no indications that Democrats will allow the measure to move forward this year.

Senate President Morgan Carroll, when asked about the proposal Monday, said that there's bipartisan support for putting state funding behind the "Safe 2 Tell" hotline.

"Data tells us that that anonymous reporting line prevents violent incidents," she said. "I think we will be interested in any new data we can get and anything else we can learn about how to reduce violence and keep our kids safe."

The Colorado Education Association, the state's largest teacher's union, said that four of five members think arming teachers would be the least effective way to increase school safety.

"We think having more guidance counselors, training teachers to recognize the signs when a student is mentally distressed, those things will go further," said Amie Baca-Oehlert.

"I think arming our educators with that type of education and training is more powerful -- or one of the most powerful things we can do to keep our schools safe."

Harvey said, unlike other GOP-sponsored bills aimed at repealing the gun laws Democrats passed last year, this measure isn't purely about political messaging in an election year.

But, should Democrats scuttle it for a second straight year, Republicans will no doubt be reminding voters all about come November.

"Democrats need to wake up to what they're creating in public schools across Colorado," Harvey said.


  • Neo Con

    Every single man, woman and child should be given a gun at birth. Our pets should receive guns as well as the food we eat. Guns should replace oxygen as an essential element for human existence.

  • Dooter

    It’s ironic how the media has down played the armed office, some not even reporting it. No bias in that though, no agenda….

  • Rob

    How can anyone ignore the simple fact that when a good guy with a gun is present there is significant less damage done. The faster the shooter meets armed response the better. There are pele I. Every school who shoot daily, and are very capable with a gun.

    Just because we give the ability to self defense does not mean everyone will be packing heat. It simply means the bad guys does not who if anyone does. It could be new person none or ten people. No matter how you cut it, anytime there is an armed response things end better…

    I sure wished I could carry, not that I would but just knowing I could and the bad knowing it makes a huge difference….

    Out of curiosity have you ever heard of a mass shooting at a police station, gun store, gun show, monster truck rally, gun range, etc? When I was in school not that long ago kids would drive to school with their duck hunting and deer hunting guns in the truck, we all had knives and never once did I even see a fight at school!

  • T

    Exactly Rob, my school also except no one brought weapons to the fights.

    The average number of people killed in mass shootings when stopped by police is 14.29

    The average number of people killed in a mass shooting when stopped by a civilian is 2.33

  • Mockingbird

    exactly RobN

    When a journalist is told that “Data tells us that that anonymous reporting line prevents violent incidents”, you would think the intrepid reporter may have asked a followup question such as “But didn’t James Holmes’ psychiatrist warn of threats before his attack?”


  • John

    It’s dumbfounding Amie thinks that more teacher psychiatric training will alleviate that problem. It may help some, or even a lot of the students that have the potential thoughts to conduct a mass shooting, but regardless, someone will still try it. Armed SROs and restricted entrances and exits are our best bets at minimizing threat. Example: airports. After 9/11 we increased the the on-site security measures of individuals entering and exiting the facilities required to commit such a crime, and we haven’t faced a recurring issue. We didn’t increase the training of instructors and presence of guidance counselors at all pilot training facilities. The other problem with increased teacher training is that we would facilitate psychiatric paranoia among our educators. Teachers would spend time worrying about students that don’t fit the mold, and over worrying every adverse reaction. Emotional expression (whether it’s angry, sadness, or even withdrawal) can be a healthy release, and uniqueness and individuality are characteristics children should be commended for and we don’t want to condition our kids to keep every emotion locked down for fear of be analyzed as a violent threat.

  • Brian McFarlane

    There is no cost to allowing teachers/staff to be armed (if they want). Of course the Dems and union wants to do things that will require some kind of funding or added jobs.

    All of the recent “mass shooting” attempts have been in relatively gun free zones, those areas are obviously targeted. All that needs done is to do away with gun free zones and publicly announce that some staff may be armed. One “armed guard” can be targeted and taken out, when it is unknown who might be armed it makes it much less desirable to victimize.

  • alphaomega80537

    When a violent person appears, whether it’s at a school, bar, or someone’s home, the first thing people do is dial 911 and summon people who will arrive ARMED. Why not eliminate the middle man, and let the teachers who want to be armed, be armed.

  • Joe Oglesby

    Sen. Ted Harvey is spot on.
    Gun free zones create killing fields for these nut jobs.
    Liberals create gun free zones.
    Everywhere you go today you will be in contact with people carrying concealed weapons and I don’t see the bloodbath on the streets the liberals are constantly warning us about.
    All the fuss over passing more gun laws last year to make us safer did nothing to stop this shooter. A good guy with a gun was present and stopped shooter after one killed. With 125 rounds of 12 guage ammo and a machete, had there not been the officer with a gun present this would have been catastrophic.
    Well intentioned people have set the stage for these horiendious acts with useless laws that the bad guys ignore.
    Thank God someone other than shooter had a gun at Arapaho High School last December.

  • Brandon Smith

    Arming teachers is not the solution that I can guarantee. Having a trained armed officer makes sense. I understand that there are budget issues, but the money spent on additional insurance, possible lawsuits, etc. from arming teachers would be much higher than paying an officer.

    I have a concealed carry license and I can tell you first hand that qualifying to carry does not mean that you are proficient in protecting yourself or others with a gun. A person shooting non moving paper targets is COMPLETLEY different then a real world scenario involving an active shooter. Adrenaline, chaos, etc. drastically changes the way people think and shoot.

    Look at trained police officers, in a real world scenario even their accuracy numbers drop and they train hard for those situations. Now imagine taking a school teacher with a gun that maybe spend two hours a month at a gun range. Do you really want that person armed and “protecting” your children?

    I understand a lot of people have the “it is better than nothing” mentality, but see if you still feel that way after a teacher shoots and innocent child that comes through a door seeking shelter and is mistaken for an aggressor. I myself have real life combat experience and I can say first hand that combat/shooting scenarios are terrible situations that use every bit of your training to make it out of. Simply arming educators is a horrible idea.

    Lastly I believe that the media has apart to play in the rise of violence at schools. I am a card carrying member of the NRA so do not think that I am anti gun, but that said the more the media reports about shooting/violence in schools the more incidences there will be. Many of you will remember when the media stopped reporting about gang violence when it was linked to a rise in “initiation rituals in gangs”. Basically a gang member would kill a random person as a way to enter a gang, the media would report on it and another one would happen soon after. Around the late 80s or early 90s the media issued a full “blackout” on those type of stories and the violence numbers dropped by a large margin.

    My point is that after the first school shooting made national headlines for an extended period of time a rise in violence and even just threats of violence rose. Most kids do not think to themselves ” I need to kill people to get my point across, but when they see it on T.V. a seed is planted in their brain.

    This is just my $.02

  • quickdraw53

    this official that was in the school with a gun proves how there is a need for this in schools. as long as they continue this gun free zones there will always be a easy target for killers. its time the liberals wake up to the truth

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