College campus concealed weapons ban passes committee

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DENVER -- For the third time in less than two days, House Democrats approved a gun safety measure after a lengthy committee hearing -- and without a single Republican vote.

After a hearing that went three hours, the House Education Committee passed House Bill 1226, which will ban concealed weapons from college campuses, on a 7-6 party-line vote.

"Students and guns are a bad mix," said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, the bill's sponsor, who argued that college campuses, where students often indulge in self-destructive behaviors including alcohol and drug abuse, are no place for young people to be carrying concealed weapons.

"Most people on college campuses are young adults," Levy said. "They are not level-headed, they are not fully mature."

A handful of seemingly mature and well-spoken college students and recent graduates testified before the committee, both for and against Levy's proposal.

"CU students are concerned and distracted by the presence of guns on campus," said Tyler Quick, the son of Adams County District Attorney Don Quick, who noted that few students are opting to live in the dormitory set aside for students choosing to carry concealed weapons (a state law passed in 2003 that exempted colleges from the Concealed Carry Act was struck down last year by the Colorado Supreme Court, allowing permit holders to again carry concealed guns on campus).

"Allowing guns on the CU campus would be a mistake," echoed Julie Carr, a creative writing professor, who also testified.

Other students found Levy's characterization of young people as immature to be insulting.

"Frankly, I find it extremely insulting to be belittled as children and to say we don't have the exprience to know discretion," said Scott Hendrick, a recent CSU graduate and a member of the group Students for Concealed Carry.

Robin Leopold, a doctoral student at the CU Medical Campus and a self-described left-leaning, pro-gay marriage atheist, told lawmakers that he spends countless hours practicing shooting and new taking training courses.

"If this bill is pushed forward, all of my training will be null and void once I cross an imaginary line," Leopold said. "I will be allowed to carry anywhere but a college campus, which makes no sense to me."

Most gun rights advocates believe that the best way to prevent gun violence is for more people to carry concealed weapons and be able to respond to a sudden crisis.

They told lawmakers that only law-abiding citizens would adhere to any concealed carry ban, leaving college campuses open targets for people looking to cause mayhem.

"This is simply asking for the honor system," said Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. "I run a jail with 500 inmates. I can tell you offenders don't do well with the honor system. That's why I lock the doors."

Wednesday afternoon, the House Finance Committee took up the fourth Democratic gun safety measure, House Bill 1228, which would force gun purchasers to pay for their own background checks.

That legislation is also expected to advance.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee spent more than 10 hours debating two other proposals, a ban on high-capacity magazines and state-mandated background checks on all gun sales, both of which passed the Democrat-controlled committee.