Charter school safety impaired

By Colorado’s Concealed Carry Law

By Jeffrey Hare

In 2003, the Colorado State legislature passed a bill that allows adults, who pass a criminal background check, the ability to carry a concealed handgun for their personal protection. Prior to that, law-abiding citizens were only allowed to openly carry a handgun on their hip – which, of course, makes it more difficult to “get the drop” on a bad guy. That’s why passage of Colorado’s “shall issue” concealed carry law was such a major victory for gun owners. It meant that law-abiding citizens could discretely reserve the option of protecting life and limb while in public places, without alarming the innocent, or tipping off criminals, in their midst.

Along with passage of Colorado’s new concealed carry bill, the legislature also passed several provisions regulating the carrying of firearms on schools campuses by persons other than students. One such provision allows authorized security personnel, in the employ of the school district, to carry a concealed handgun “as part of their normal duties.” While the presence of an internal “first responder” armed with a handgun certainly doesn’t guarantee anyone’s safety, it gives students, teachers, and staff a fighting chance to survive what is becoming an all too common occurrence in our schools.

Prior to the adoption of the Colorado Concealed Carry Act of 2003 security personnel hired by a charter school could carry a handgun concealed.  However, the language in 18-12-214(3)(b) states “employee…retained…by a school district.” Employees of charter schools are not considered school district employees, but rather employees of the each specific charter school. Therefore, a strict interpretation of this statute by the courts could mean that security officers hired by charter schools would not be allowed to carry their weapon concealed. This is foolish public policy, and deprives charter schools of retaining well-trained, qualified security personnel to protect staff and students. Often charter schools cannot afford to hire off-duty police officers, so they must rely on retired lawmen, combat veterans, or adequately trained civilians for campus security. Unfortunately, the Colorado legislature took away the conceal carry option from charter schools in its CCW reform effort in 2003.

Charter schools are a significant and growing part of the education of K-12 students. The students, teachers, and staff of Colorado’s 170-plus charter schools deserve the chance to survive an act of workplace/ campus violence, just as much as their public school counterparts. I call on all gun owners in Colorado to urge our state legislature to amend Colorado’s Concealed Carry law to give charter schools the statutory authorization to allow security personnel to carry concealed, just like every other law abiding Coloradan.

Jeffrey Hare is a successful small businessman, life-long gun owner, a charter school board member, and an at-large member of the Weld County Council. Hare lives with his wife of 20 years, and three children in Greeley, Colorado.

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