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Colorado Republicans Pushing To Allow Guns On School Campuses

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Colorado state senators on Monday rejected legislation proposed by Republicans that would allow concealed weapons on school campuses, KJCT 8 News reports.

Colorado Republicans proposed five pieces of legislation in both the state House and the Senate that were either similar or identical to previous pro-gun bills that have failed in the past, according the Colorado Statesman.

Two nearly identical bills introduced in the House and Senate would ease restrictions on carrying concealed handguns and firearms by lifting permit requirements, the Statesman reported.

Other sets of bills would prohibit authorities from confiscating weapons during emergencies and would eliminate the requirement that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation perform backgrounds checks on potential gun owners because they are already screened once by weapons dealers.

Proposed legislation focused on easing restrictions for carrying guns has particular consequences for students of Colorado colleges and universities which, under current law, can independently decide whether or not students are permitted to carry concealed weapons on campus, according to NPR.

But many state legislators believe all Colorado residents should have the right to carry concealed weapons, including students on college campuses.

"It comes down to a freedom of liberty and a less government issue, and empowering citizens to do something that should be a basic right -- everybody being able to protect yourself and your family," Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) told the Statesman.

Neville introduced Senate Bill 25, which would removing permit requirements for carrying a concealed firearm.

A number of Democratic legislators have also expressed agreement with Neville's position.

"Someone's going to go shoot up a school whether or not they get a permit beforehand," Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) told the Statesman. "These are easy choices for me."

With the Colorado Senate Committee's ruling Monday, colleges will retain the right to implement their own weapons control policies. But that right may be challenged when the legislation goes up for vote in the House.

According to NPR, since the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, an increasing number of colleges have lifted restrictions on carrying guns on campus. In response, legislators across the nation have introduced 56 bills over the past three years specifically addressing college gun laws, only one of which has passed.

"While there's a lot of talk about it, it doesn't seem like legislators are willing to move these bills along very far," Vincent Badolato, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told NPR.

In the meantime, the right of college students to carry guns is still being battled out on Colorado campuses.

Colorado State University's board of directors voted unanimously to ban guns on school campus in 2010, but later overturned the ban due to pending decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals as to whether students at the University of Colorado should be able to carry concealed weapons on campus, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The University of Colorado banned guns in 1970 excepting the handful of students who kept hunting equipment in lockers with campus police, according to The Denver Post.

Then in 2003, Colorado passed the Concealed Carry Act (CCA), which required residents carrying concealed firearms to be at least 21 years old and pass a background check. When the University of Colorado asked then-Attorney General Ken Salazar if the CCA also applied to students at universities with gun bans in place, Salazar ruled that it did not.

But in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, two students at the University of Colorado and one alumnus filed a complaint in state court against the University of Colorado's regents in order to overturn the gun ban, reviving a 1994 lawsuit that was thrown out.

The Colorado Court of Appeals eventually ruled that the University of Colorado's policy-making authorities did not have the right to prohibit students who met the CCA's requirements for carrying a concealed weapon from carrying them on campus, The Denver Post reported. The University's Board of Regents then voted to appeal the court decision.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article failed to mention that Colorado State University reversed its weapons ban due to a pending decision by The Colorado Court of Appeals on whether or not students at its sister system, the University of Colorado, would be able to carry concealed weapons on campus. The Court of Appeals eventually ruled in favor of allowing University of Colorado students with concealed gun permits to carry weapons on campus, which the University's Board of Regents voted to appeal.

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