DENVER – For the second time this week, Senate Democrats killed a Republican bill that attempted to increase the use of concealed weapons as a solution to gun violence.
This time, the casualty was Sen. Kent Lambert’s bill to require businesses to either hire armed guards or allow customers to carry concealed weapons. Businesses who didn’t comply could be held liable for acts of violence committed on their premises.
Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said gun-free zones are an invitation to mass shooters. An armed citizen with a concealed gun could have stopped the Aurora movie theater massacre last summer, he said.
“Concealed-carry permits with armed citizens work to contain violence and stop mass shootings,” Lambert said.
John Head, co-president of the gun-control group Safe Colorado, said the idea was “silly” and from “never-never land.”
Armed moviegoers could not have stopped the massacre in a loud, dark theater, he said.
“You’d have a bunch of people getting hit in the crossfire,” Head said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee killed Lambert’s bill on a 3-2 vote, with Democrats opposed. Two days earlier, the same committee killed a bill to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons in school.
The hearing drove home the point that key lawmakers are approaching the gun debate from very different perspectives. Some of them get nervous in a room full of armed people, and some get nervous when not enough armed people are in the room.
Lambert’s bill would have required one armed guard for every 50 customers, if a business refused to allow concealed carry.
Annmarie Jensen, a lobbyists for the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, said police didn’t like the idea, because emotions can run high at something as common as a Little League game.
“Imagine injecting one gun for every 50 people into that setting. It’s crazy what could go wrong,” she said.
Throughout the hearing, people on both sides talked as if they couldn’t believe what their opponents were saying.
“Let me get this straight: The chiefs of police of the state of Colorado are opposed to self-defense of the citizens of our state?” said Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction.
Democrats have not yet introduced their gun-control bills.