With the massacre of 17 staff and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School still fresh in the minds of many, a Colorado state lawmaker — and survivor of the Columbine school shooting that killed 12 in 1999 — is pushing to eradicate “gun-free zones” in schools, according to the Washington Times, allowing concealed-carry permit holders to carry on school grounds and in buildings.
Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville was fifteen years old and a sophomore at Columbine High School when the shooting started one day in 1999. Neville believes that armed teachers and school staff could have curbed the bloodshed at Columbine, telling NPR: “I truly believe that had some of them had the legal authority to be armed, more of my friends might be with me today.”
So he’s introduced a bill to allow concealed carry and eliminate “gun-free zones” at high schools — a bill that he has introduced and watched die every year since 2014. This year’s bill was introduced last month; its hearing in Colorado’s State House, which has a Democratic majority, is Tuesday.
Current Colorado state law requires people with concealed-carry permits to keep their weapons locked in their vehicles when on school property. An armed school resource officer was on-campus at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the shooting, but “never encountered” shooter Nikolas Cruz.
In a statement reported by the Washington Times, Rep. Neville said: “This act would allow every law-abiding citizens who holds a concealed carry permit, issued from their chief law-enforcement officer, the right to carry concealed in order to defend themselves and most importantly our children from the worst-case scenarios.”
“The one common theme with mass shootings,” says Neville, is that “they occur in gun-free zones.” Neville did not mention other possible common themes, like the AR-15 rifle, present in 7 of the 10 deadliest school shootings in the past ten years.
A rural Colorado school district, Hanover, voted in 2017 to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom once they earned extra certification.