A Gun Law That Can Save Lives

On Friday, December 13, 2013, a student armed with a shotgun, a machete, three Molotov cocktails and a bandolier of shotgun shells went into Arapahoe High School in Centennial, CO intent on murdering his debate coach and as many others as he could.  In 80 seconds, he managed to light a bookshelf on fire, shoot a beautiful young woman in the face resulting in her death eight days later, and kill himself.  He did not find his debate coach and he did not have time to accomplish the mass murder he wanted to.  Why?  Because he knew that armed resistance in the person of a School Resource Officer was about to contact him.

From January to March 2013, the Colorado legislature debated and passed several gun-control bills over the vocal and visible opposition of a majority of Coloradans.  Not one of them did anything to save lives on Friday the 13th of December.  Instead, the one bill that might have saved lives that day was killed in committee by the Democratic controlled House.

HB 1224, sponsored by Representative Fields (House) and Senator Hodge (Senate) prohibits standard capacity magazines in excess of 15 rounds.  This law proves to be as ineffective as the magazine ban in existence at the time of Columbine – the killer brought extra ammunition with him in the form a bandoleer filled with shotgun shells.  The Columbine shooters brought extra magazines with them to get around the 1994 ban on higher capacity magazines.  Lives saved – 0.

HB 1229, sponsored by Representative Fields (House) and Senator Carroll (Senate) requires so-called “universal background checks”.  While ProgressNow Colorado contends that 72 denials under the law since July means the law works, the fact remains that there is no way to know how many criminals actually obtain firearms through illegal sales between criminals and straw purchases.  Furthermore, we don’t know how many of those denials would be reversed upon appeal.  What we do know is that the Arapahoe shooter purchased his shotgun legally.  Because no mental health flag was attached to his name, he was able to pass the background check.  Lives saved – 0.

SB 197, sponsored by former Senator Hudak (Senate) and Representative McCann (House), prohibits those accused of domestic violence from possessing firearms, thus violating the 4th amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure by limiting the property rights of those accused – not convicted – of domestic violence.  The Arapahoe shooter was not accused of domestic violence, though he had previously threatened the debate coach – so he was not precluded from possessing a firearm.  Lives saved – 0.

HB 1228, sponsored by Representative Court (House) and Senator Heath (Senate) requires the payment of a $10 fee for a background check, is not only unconstitutional in that it is the equivalent of a “poll tax”, but it clearly did not deter the shooter from purchasing a shotgun.  Obviously he had the ten bucks.  Lives saved – 0.

This tragic incident convincingly proves what NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary:  “The only thing that stops a bad buy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  As others say, “when seconds count, the police are minutes away”.  Yet Colorado Democrats killed a bill in the 2013 legislative session that would have allowed teachers to concealed carry in schools.

The state of Utah allows teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools.  They don’t have school shootings in Utah.  The Colorado town of Briggsdale has moved to allow teachers to carry concealed handguns in classrooms as long as they participate in training.  Other states including Ohio are moving to allow concealed carry in schools.

The bottom line is that any teacher who is a qualified CHP holder and attends regular training should be allowed to concealed carry in schools if they choose to.  The risk of “accidental crossfire” is small, and more than offsets the risk that another disgruntled individual will be able to wreak mayhem in the next incident.

I call upon the Colorado legislature to take up this bill again in the 2014 session.  This is one gun bill that will actually save lives.

By Richard D. Turnquist

December 22, 2013

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Comments 2

  1. The idea that the answer to this is more guns is insane. The answer is better gun management in America. It is time for American people to get with reality and manage guns just like the rest of the real developed world. Carrying guns around indiscriminately and making them available to everybody and anybody and then looking the other way as if somehow there is a God given right to individually decide who will die and who won’t is antisocial. It will lead to the death of America itself.

    1. I don’t advocate for people “carrying guns around indiscriminately and making them available to everybody and anybody.”

      There are laws surrounding who may purchase a firearm from a Federally Licensed Firearm Dealer (FFL) and there are further restrictions on who may legally carry a concealed weapon. I am not suggesting any changes to existing laws.

      What I am suggesting is that teachers and other adults who have their CHP be allowed to carry if they choose to do so. By now, it should be obvious that gun-free zones are in fact less safe than non-designated areas. By allowing qualified individuals to carry in those areas, any would-be mass shooters would know they could encounter armed resistance, which is a deterrent.

      The fact remains that the Arapahoe High School incident would have been a lot worse without an armed School Resource Officer on site.

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