The latest chapter in Colorado's intense battle over gun control — should school districts be authorized to let employees, such as teachers, carry concealed weapons on school grounds — ended in defeat for gun-rights advocates.
The state's House Judiciary Committee by a party-line vote said "no" to the proposed legislation Tuesday, the Denver Post reported.
GOP Rep. Steve Humphrey sponsored the bill and said that mass shootings at schools across the country should open the doors for districts to choose that path.
"It's not requiring schools to allow weapons, but it gives them the option," Humphrey said. "It could help keep our kids safe."
Humphrey's bill allowed concealed weapons in conjunction with valid permits, which Colorado already issues. Humphrey tried a similar bill last year, and the House rejected it.
After Colorado lawmakers passed a number of restrictive measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, citizens last year recalled two Democrats who favored gun control while a third resigned her seat in order to preserve a majority.
After the vote killing Humphrey's bill, the Facebook page for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners lit up. One commenter, Jeff Williams, had this to say to Democrats who remain in favor of gun control: "...you had a chance this year to fix it. In November it will be the will of the voters to fix the problem. Everyone must get out and vote as many of these people out of office as possible."
Despite the bill's rejection, the RMGO announced on Facebook that it's holding a free concealed-carry certification class for K-12 teachers on Feb. 28 at a Denver church:
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that about 50 percent of Coloradans believe teachers should be armed in schools; 45 percent oppose the idea, the poll found. The Post noted that the poll was the first conducted regarding the issue since December's shooting at Arapahoe High School, where a gunman killed a classmate before taking his own life.
Presently state law allows those employed by school districts as a security officers to "carry a concealed handgun onto the real property of a public school while on duty," according to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
Katie Lyles, a teacher from a metro-area elementary school, testified to lawmakers that she might leave her profession if the Humphrey's measure were to pass.
"My hope would be that our discussions of what to do once a gunman is inside our schools transforms into how do we prevent this situation to escalate to that point," she said.
Denver Public Schools officials also voiced opposition to Humphrey's bill.
Jeff McGovern has three daughters in public schools and traveled to Denver to insist lawmakers pass the bill.
"This does not mandate that schools create policy," said McGovern. "It only gives them that option, which is an option I support."