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Armed teachers under debate in Colorado

By: KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press
February 11, 2014 Updated: February 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm
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photo - State Legislature interns Mahtub Zare Mochanloo, far right, and Sophanite Gedion, second row center, listen to testimony during a hearing on a bill which would allow Colorado public school teachers to carry concealed firearms during class, at the Capitol, in Denver, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The Republican proposal has been made before without success, but the suggestion has additional relevance after last year's Arapahoe High School shootings, in which a student targeted a teacher. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
State Legislature interns Mahtub Zare Mochanloo, far right, and Sophanite Gedion, second row center, listen to testimony during a hearing on a bill which would allow Colorado public school teachers to carry concealed firearms during class, at the Capitol, in Denver, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The Republican proposal has been made before without success, but the suggestion has additional relevance after last year's Arapahoe High School shootings, in which a student targeted a teacher. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) 

DENVER — The targeting of a Colorado schoolteacher by an armed teen last year doesn't appear to have swayed Colorado Democrats on permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons on campus.

A Democratic House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Tuesday on another Republican bill to expand gun rights. The bill would allow school districts to permit teachers, not just designated school resource officers, to carry concealed weapons if the school districts wish.

Similar Republican proposals have been made before without success, but the suggestion has additional resonance after last year's Arapahoe High School shootings, in which a student targeted a teacher.

"I can think of no safer way at this point to address school violence," said Steve Reams, a Weld County Republican running for sheriff there.

Supporters of the idea were far outweighed by teachers and students who packed the hearing to speak against the idea.

"There's no reason for teachers to have guns in school when we're trying to keep guns out of schools in the first place," said Karina Vargas, who was paralyzed in 2010 from a shooting outside Aurora Central High.

A similar measure allowing armed teachers is looming in the Wyoming Legislature.

The Colorado hearing came a week after a poll showed Coloradans narrowly say public schoolteachers should be armed. The Quinnipiac University Poll found that voters favored arming teachers to prevent violence in schools by a 50-45 margin.

The poll of 1,139 voters was conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 and had a margin of error of 2.9 percent.

Democrats say school security should be left to armed officers, not teachers.

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Online:

House Bill 1157: http://bit.ly/1dGa30t

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