Colorado citizens have had much to digest and say about the issue of guns in the past week or so. Here are some of the high (or low) lights.
Background check repeal fails
Supported by a poll that shows 86 percent of Colorado voters support and approve of the background check bill passed in last year's legislative session, a Colorado state senate committee voted 3-2 in favor of rejecting a bill that would overturn the legislation. The bill was proposed by state Senator George Rivera (Pueblo), who took over for Angela Giron after she was recalled by a gun lobby supported recall in 2013.
Arming school teachers
In the same poll, 50% of respondents told pollster Quinnipiac, that they would like teachers to be armed on school campuses - 45% did not.
This is an interesting finding that shows support for arming teachers. But keep in mind this is after a rash of school shootings nationwide, including one in Arapahoe, Colorado last December. While the results could be interpreted as voters do in fact want armed teachers, it also could have some "knee-jerk reaction" baked in.
The way the question is asked also invites ambiguity:
Do you support or oppose allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns on school grounds?It could be that those polled interpreted "school officials" to mean trained resource officers many of whom are police or former police - rather than teachers - and many of whom already are on campuses. So, those polled also could have interpreted this to be a question asking if they supported taking armed teachers and staff off campus. In other words, if they answered "yes/support" - they could be re-affirming a belief that armed resource offices should remain on campus, and not necessarily voicing support for adding armed teachers to the mix.
The question gives the poll participant a lot of leeway to interpret just exactly what the pollster is asking. A better way to ask the question would have been: "Do you support schools having armed staff on campus?" and a follow up question: "Should this armed staff be teachers/administrators or safety resource officers?"
That would be a more fair way to ask the question and would do a better job of getting at the heart of the issue. If I were a proponent of arming teachers, I would not call this result a slam dunk for arming teachers by any stretch of the imagination.
Voters may also not be aware that most school districts have not been able to secure insurance for armed teachers because insurance company actuaries find that it puts the insurer at too great a risk:
Allowing teachers and other employees to carry guns under a new state law would cost most school districts their insurance.http://cjonline.com/...
EMC Insurance Companies, the state’s main insurer of schools, won’t insure districts with armed employees under the new law, which takes effect July 1. Districts already insured by EMC wouldn’t have their policies renewed.
“We understand that school districts have every right to decide which way they want to go,” Bernie Zalaznik, EMC’s resident vice president in Wichita, said Monday. “But we have to make the decision based on what we perceive to be our best financial interest.”
The NY Times does a good job of reviewing several school districts in several states that have had similar trouble getting insured to arm teachers:
Next Tuesday, the Colorado Judiciary committee will consider a bill that allows schools to arm teachers. Should be a doozy.
House committee to vote on magazine capacity repeal
And the day before (Monday) a legislative committee is set to hear a bill that tries to repeal the state's new limit on magazine capacity to 15 rounds. The Quinnipiac poll found support for the measure at 50% to 47% against - this policy has had increasing support in Quinnipiac polls from 48% to 47% a few months ago to 50-47 now.
If you want to learn more about the Colorado legislature and the gun legislation before it in 2014, Colorado CeaseFire is a great resource:
Open carry ban — to repeal or not to repeal, that is the question that seems to be headed for voters in Castle Rock
Another interesting bit of Colorado gun news is the story of Castle Rock, Colorado. A city on the exurban edge to the south of Denver. Two weeks ago the town council voted 4-3 in favor of overturning a ban on open carry of guns in public buildings and in public parks.
The mayor of the city is a part owner in a local gun club/range and the local gun lobby - the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners - provided support in the form of information guides and coaching, and that support showed up in the rhetoric and message of town council members who voted in support of the repeal as well as the Rocky Mountain Gun Owner lobbyists themselves and supporters who showed up at town council meetings to voice support for the repeal.
The issue seems to have lit a fire in the city. Now a "No Repeal" movement has begun with supporters set to gather 1,800 signatures to put a referendum to the city to stop the repeal:
On Jan. 28 at about 11 p.m., Castle Rock Town Council voted 4-3 to repeal the ban on open carrying of firearms in some town buildings and facilities.http://castlerocknewspress.net/...?
And on Jan. 29 at about 9:30 a.m., a committee of six residents, upset with the council's decision, started a referendum effort by submitting a petition to the town clerk.
Siegfried "Ziggy" Guentensberger, a volunteer baseball coach with the Castle Rock Parks and Recreation District, said he was told they will need about 1,800 signatures, submitted by Feb. 26, to do that. If successful, a special election would be scheduled.
If the town council's decision stands, on Feb. 27 — 30 days after that decision was made — anyone who has a handgun or assault rifle or any other legally purchased firearm will be allowed to carry it in their hands or holstered to Castle Rock Town Council meetings, and other town commission and advisory board meetings, administrative offices, various parks and other town-owned properties.
If you are in Castle Rock, you can learn more about how to support this effort here: