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Colorado rejects bill to allow armed teachers

Colorado rejects bill to allow armed teachers

DENVER - The targeting of a Colorado school teacher by an armed teen last year didn't sway Colorado Democrats on permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus.

A Democratic House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 Tuesday to reject another Republican bill to expand gun rights. The bill would allow school districts to permit teachers, not just designated school resource officers, to carry concealed weapons if the school districts wish.

Similar Republican proposals have been made before without success, but the suggestion had additional resonance after last year's Arapahoe High School shootings, in which a student targeted a teacher.

A retired police chief living in Colorado Springs said the debate about arming teachers isn't over. Retired Police Chief Phil Jones was the first to respond to a school shooting in Minnesota in 2003. He said something needs to be done, but the answer is complicated.

Jones spent 21 years as a police chief but one call 11 years ago changed his life. Two students were shot to death at a High School in Cold Spring, Minn. Jones was one of the first responders.

He was awarded a medal of honor of this response to the shooting. However it's not a badge he wears proudly.

"I just couldn't deal with the fact that there was an award when two kids were killed," said Jones. "I put it in a drawer and I didn't look at it for years."

Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker was hiding in the school's library during the gunfire.

"It's a situation you never wish upon anyone," said Decker in a video to Arapahoe High School students after a shooting at its school.

Jones said when he ran into the school that, day he had one thing on his mind.

"See the gun. Shoot the person," said Jones.

Jones has studied school shootings for 12 years. He said he is neutral when it comes to the debate about arming teachers in schools. He said teachers with guns could make the situation more deadly.

"I look back and I say, 'what if that was a teacher with a gun trying to help?' said Jones. "There has to be some way for officers responding to know who the bad guy is."

He thinks Colorado will pass legislation someday that will allow teachers to carry guns in schools. He said he hopes it comes with a lot of restrictions.

"I hope it comes with a restriction that it's ultimately the school district's decision about whether teachers should carry guns," said Jones.

He also said teachers should go through extensive background checks in additional to their conceal and carry permit. He said teachers should then go through rigorous training with law enforcement about how to respond in active shooter situations.

He said something needs to be done, but the solution is complicated.

Jones said there is a company that has designed bullet-proof white boards. He's fired rounds into the board, stabbed the board and beat them with baseball bats. He said the boards can take it all, and make sure a gunman doesn't take a life.

He's a big advocate of arming teachers with the white boards.

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