02/14/2013 10:12 am ET

Concealed Weapons Ban On College Campuses Bill Passes Colorado House Committee

After already passing two new controversial gun bills in House committee Tuesday, on Wednesday Colorado Democrats passed another bold gun bill that would ban concealed weapons on all public college campuses in the state.

After hearing hours of arguments from students, teachers and law enforcement professionals who both opposed and supported the bill, House Education Committee passed House Bill 1226 on a 7 to 6 party line vote. Read the full text of HB-1226 here.

The campus gun ban bill, along with other gun bills, are expected to be debated on the House floor Friday.

"Guns and college students don't mix," Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), a sponsor of the bill said during the hearing The Denver Post reports. "Do we really want to give guns to binge-drinking college students?"

Testimony opposed to the measure from gun rights activists was mostly centered around the idea that the only way to combat gun violence is with more people carrying guns, so bills like this, in their opinion, make people and colleges less safe.

"CU students are concerned and distracted by the presence of guns on campus," said University of Colorado senior Tyler Quick, Fox31 reported. During the hearing, Quick also said that very few students are taking advantage of the so-called "gun dorms" that the University of Colorado created for students who are concealed-carry permit holders.

The University of Colorado announced in August 2012 that it would ban firearms in dorms, but would also create a segregated residential area for students who are concealed-carry permit holders. But just months after the rule change last year no students had even asked to live in the segregated residential area that allows guns on the Boulder or Colorado Springs campuses, The Denver Post reported.

Why that is, exactly, isn't clear and could range from a small number of permit holders on campus that also live in dorms to students that are concealed-carry permit holders not wanting to live in an area that basically shines a spotlight on the fact that they have firearms in their dorm room and might feel that the new rule violates their rights.

The University of Colorado announced the change to students' housing contracts for the Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses in mid-2012. The new rule states that students who hold a Colorado concealed-carry permit can no longer keep a handgun in the dorms and could be asked to relocate to a university apartment or a residential area set aside for concealed-carry permit holders over the age of 21. If the student is found with a firearm in their dorm room, they may be released from their residence hall contract, according to a press release from University of Colorado Boulder.

The new rule also prevents concealed-carry permit holders from bringing a gun to any event at Folsom Field or ticketed performance venue. The university is treating the purchase of a ticket to a CU public performance as an agreement with the university to not carry a concealed weapon, even as a valid permit holder, into the venue.

The amended CU contract also requires permit holders to store their gun in a safe in their home when the gun is not being carried.

The same rules apply for university employees.

Colorado law requires concealed-carry permit holders to be at least 21 years of age, complete an FBI background check and to show proof of a completed a firearms training course or to have had previous police or military experience.

"I believe we have taken responsible steps to adhere to the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court, while balancing that with the priority of providing a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff," CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in a statement in August.

The decision from CU came in the wake of a the Colorado Supreme Court ruling in March that overturned a CU campus gun ban and allowed students and employees to legally carry licensed concealed guns on campus. The prohibition, the Court ruled, was illegal because it was not approved by the Legislature.

James Manley, an attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation -- a nonprofit legal foundation "dedicated to individual liberty, limited ethical government and free enterprise," according to their website -- who argued against CU's original gun ban told The Denver Post that, "The position of the Supreme Court was that [CU Regents] were operating above the law."

The university had been working toward a new policy since the Supreme Court overturned the original ban and CU believes that their new approach only affects a very small number of individuals. From their press release:

An analysis by the University of Colorado shows that 0.6 percent of the faculty, staff and students on campus possess a [concealed-carry permit] CCP. A full 96 percent of CU-Boulder undergraduate students living in the residence halls are under the age of 21, and are thus ineligible to have a CCP. Of the 4 percent of eligible students, about half living on campus are CU Resident Advisers, or “RAs,” who as CU employees would not be permitted to live in undergraduate halls and possess a CCP.



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