Colorado, Wyoming, N Dakota Mull Guns in Schools

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Lawmakers in several parts of the country are proposing legislation that would give individuals who hold a concealed weapon permit the right to carry firearms on public school grounds.

Supporters of the movement feel it will make schools across the country safer.

“They’re just easy targets … for a criminal, a terrorist or anyone intent on doing harm,” Patrick Neville, a Colorado state representative, says. “I wake up every day and send my kid to school on blind faith that she’s going to return home safe when there’s really no safeguards for our schools.”

According to a poll performed last year by Quinnipiac University, 50% of Colorado citizens support the idea of arming teachers in public schools, while 45% do not.

Katie Lyles, a third-grade art teacher in Colorado, is one of those who do not support the effort.

“I think that’s a really short-sighted, reactive solution,” Lyles says. “I feel like we need to be looking at a different conversation. And that conversation is, how do we prevent violence from even entering that school.”

She went on to say that the logistics of working in a school make it difficult to keep the guns away from her students, who are constantly around her and some of whom give her hugs throughout the day.  While the gun could be kept locked away in a desk or locker, she is concerned about how easy it would be to get the gun and get her children to safety at the same time.

The same sentiment is largely shared by the state’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives as well as by the Democratic governor John Hickenlooper.  Each of the similar proposals brought up in the committee in the past two years have been dropped, writes Nate Rott for NPR.

Similar legislation has already been approved in Wyoming that would effectively eliminate “gun-free zones,” that Wyoming state Assemblyman Allen Jaggi feels are vulnerable.  The bill would allow citizens with a concealed weapons permit to carry firearms into the state’s public schools, as well as onto community college and university campuses.

Jaggi said it may cause “bad guys” to think again about entering a school because they would not know who, if anyone, had a gun in the school.

Critics argue that the “bad guy” could in fact have a concealed weapon permit.  Although, Jaggi said that the state’s permitting process would deny those people permits through its required background checks and training.

A similar bill has passed in North Dakota that would allow individuals to carry weapons onto school grounds as long as they have permission from the school beforehand.  The school must offer training with local law enforcement and inform them of who is carrying a weapon.