Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Sheriff's offer to help arm teachers gets big response

GARRISON WELLS Updated: January 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

Some Colorado Springs teachers responded eagerly Thursday to El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa’s offer to assist with firearms training and waive charges for concealed weapons permits to enhance school security.

“We’re getting calls from people who say they are a teacher and they want a concealed weapons permit,” said Lt. Jeff Kramer, El Paso County Sheriff’s spokesman. “We’re getting inquiries from teachers, administrators and representatives of local school districts.”

Maketa, who supports arming teachers and administrators in schools, told The Gazette about his ideas Wednesday. When the news hit the streets, the calls started.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper offered measured support to the idea during an interview Thursday with The Gazette’s editorial board.

Armed teachers or administrators could make schools safer as long as there was “comprehensive training” on using weapons and keeping them stored safely.

The problem is that under state and federal law, guns are not allowed on school grounds under the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act unless carried by law enforcement or security personnel.

“It all starts with the district,” Kramer said. “If they express an interest in it as a program, we will talk with them and set up a program.”

Colorado’s legislators might help Maketa.

Republican legislators in Colorado have introduced a bill to allow a school board or governing board of a charter school to adopt a policy that would allow a school employee to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds if the person holds a concealed weapons permit.

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, and Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Parker. In the House, the sponsor is Lori Saine, R-Dacono.

Renfroe said he comes at the issue from the inside, having been a school board member for eight years and serving on a charter school board presently. He was on the school board during the shooting at Columbine.

“It’s clear that what we have been doing is not working,” he said. “Gun-free zones — criminals don’t obey the law and they never will.”

He hopes to add Democrat backers to the bill, but the debate hasn’t started.

“We were very generic in getting it rolled out,” Renfroe said. “We need to look at this and be honest with ourselves. There are teachers out there who are veterans or retired police who are very qualified. The last thing I want to do is have a person like that in the school who can’t help protect the children they are teaching and themselves.”

Maketa, he said, “is doing exactly what I hoped experts like him will do.”

Maketa was out of town Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

READ MORE: Sheriff offers firearms training for teachers, administrators

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