A final decision about restricting guns on college campuses has yet to be reached and surrounding Colorado House Bill 1226 is a stormy debate between student groups, legislators, and members of University of Colorado Boulder faculty.
The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), would prevent individuals from carrying concealed weapons into buildings on college campuses. It’s a move that has provoked retaliation from gun rights advocates across the state.
Colorado senators are hearing several bills on gun control this Monday, four of which, including HB 1226, have already passed through the state House.
The issue is not purely about delineating the Second Amendment. Tragedies like the Columbine, Aurora and Newtown shootings have raised public concern for gun control in recent months.
The Concealed Carry Act, passed in 2003, contains provisions that restrict otherwise legally concealed weapons in certain areas like K-12 schools and government buildings with metal detectors. CU Regents banned guns on campuses, but were challenged in 2008 by a pro-gun rights student group, who won their case. Colorado Supreme Court justices ruled last March that the state’s Concealed Carry Act overruled the campus gun ban.
Levy, a representative of eastern Boulder County, seeks in her bill to represent teachers concerned with students bringing guns into their classrooms. In the beginning, Levy was interested only in returning control to the Regents.
“I think it really needs to be a question of local control,” Levy said in a CU news release. “I would really like the support of the administration… I would like them to say ‘yes we want this authority back.”
Levy also said that it would be difficult to pass a bill if the issue turned into a pro-gun versus anti-gun discussion. But with a Democrat-controlled House, Senate and governorship, HB 1226 is likely to add higher education buildings to the list of places where concealed weapons permits do not apply.
There are those who reject the proposition altogether, like Jim Geddes, a CU regent and Republican who has implored his colleagues to support the right to carry on campus.
“This debate is raging nationally,” Geddes told the Daily Camera. “The whole country is looking to us to see what will happen.”
While the legislature deliberates, similar debates are being raised on campus. Andrew Grosser, a 21-year-old junior psychology major, sets himself apart from the hullabaloo, feeling that guns aren’t an issue at CU.
“In Boulder, I haven’t heard, seen, or thought of guns once,” Grosser said. “Their threat is almost nonexistent.”
CU Police Department estimates that less than 1 percent of CU faculty members and students have concealed-weapon permits. Campus representatives argue that student interests, no matter how minor, must be adequately represented.
“There are students on this campus who believe repealing Concealed Carry is equivalent to repealing their right to defend themselves,” CUSG Vice President of Internal Affairs Logan Schlutz said.
Tyler Quick, vice president of external affairs, believes that politics and school should remain separate issues.
“My main concern is that by making campus free of concealed weapons, we’ll be able to focus more on academics, on our work and won’t get caught on these ridiculously polemic political discussions,” Quick said.
Advocates of the bill continue to prioritize campus safety.
“CU already has an unfortunate reputation as a party school where parties sometimes turn violent,” Levy said on her twitter account. “Now it is a well-armed party school.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Gabriel Larsen-Santos at Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org.