Bill Improving Campus Safety Advances

(Feb. 13) – Two more gun safety measures passed their first committees today.

HB13-1226, sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), would add the buildings of Colorado’s public colleges and universities, including their sports stadiums and other public arenas, to the list of places where concealed carry of guns is not allowed.

And HB13-1228, by Rep. Lois Court, would end a state subsidy – about $12 – on background checks conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, also helping to reduce the backlog in the CBI InstaCheck program.

The Levy bill was approved today by the House Education Committee on a 7-4 vote, and Rep. Court’s measure passed the House Finance Committee, where the vote was 7-6.

Rep. Levy brought her bill after Colorado’s public colleges and universities, which forbade guns on campus, were forced to change their rules after a March 2012 decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that concealed-carry permits applied on the University of Colorado campus.

“While carrying a gun may give one a sense of safety, on a college campus, that’s an illusion,” Rep. Levy said. She described such campus concerns as suicide, drug and alcohol abuse. And several students and professors testified to the chilling effect on free expression and academic discourse from even the possibility that a gun might be in a classroom.

“I have devoted my career to ensuring the safety of students, and I know that guns don’t belong in the classroom,” said one of the yes votes, Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon), the chairwoman of the Education Committee and a former school district superintendent.

Rep. Court told the Finance Committee that the intent of her bill is simply to “recoup the costs of background checks from law-abiding citizens and free money up in the general fund for other purposes.” She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has found no constitutional problem with charging reasonable fees for the exercise of rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

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