Guns in schools: Superintendent says armed employees would offer best protection

We recently wrote about a legislative push in Colorado to allow permitted employees to carry guns in schools -- one of a handful of gun-related bills already making headlines at the start of the new session. We've since heard from Jeff Bollinger, a school superintendent in Sheridan Lake, who supports the idea. Why? If a shooter broke in, he says his only defense would be to hide students and hope they aren't found.

"I feel responsible for the lives of my staff and students," says Bollinger, superintendent of Plainview School in Sheridan Lake, in eastern Colorado about fifty miles north of Lamar. "But really, the only protection I can offer them now is a good hiding place."

The bill, introduced on day one, is sponsored by Representative Lori Saine in the House and senators Scott Renfroe and Ted Harvey -- all Republicans.

If passed, the bill would give school boards across the state the authority to allow permitted employees to bring concealed handguns onto school property. Currently, schools in Colorado are considered gun-free zones -- but this proposal would allow districts to change their policy if they wanted. (No district would be forced to allow guns and could maintain their schools as gun-free zones if they preferred).

The push for enhanced safety precautions in schools comes the month after a gunman in Newtown, Connecticut shot his way into an elementary school and ultimately killed twenty students and six adults. The terrible massacre sparked a renewed discussion in Colorado about gun control -- a topic widely debated in the aftermath of the Aurora theater shooting.

While some Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are pushing initiatives that would restrict access to guns and provide a more thorough background-check system, the Republican legislators, echoing recent controversial comments from the National Rifle Association, see more guns in schools as part of the solution.

But even as the bill sparks controversy, it's supported by Bollinger, who talked to Representative Saine about the importance of letting employees who are trained and licensed carry guns on school grounds.

Continue for the rest of our interview with Jeff Bollinger.

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin

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