Colorado State Rep. Patrick Neville (R.), who attended Columbine High School during the tragic 1999 school shooting, has filed legislation to remove restrictions prohibiting concealed carry permit holders from being able to carry a firearm on public elementary, middle, junior high, and high school grounds.
"As a former Columbine student who was a sophomore during the shootings on April 20, 1999, I will do everything in my power to prevent Colorado families from enduring the hardships my classmates and I faced that day," Neville told the Washington Times.
Under current Colorado state law, concealed carry permit holders are allowed to bring firearms onto school property but they must remain locked in the permit holder's vehicle. Neville's bill, HB 18, would remove those prohibitions and allow concealed carry permit holders to keep firearms on them while on school premises. Neville believes that allowing law-abiding gun owners to carry firearms on school premises will increase public safety and allow individuals to protect themselves in dire situations.
"This act would allow every law-abiding citizen who holds a concealed carry permit, issued from their chief law-enforcement officer, the right to carry concealed in order to defend themselves and most importantly our children from the worst-case scenarios," Neville said.
Neville points to a commonality that exists at the scene of most mass shootings, including the one he survived as a teenager.
"Time and time again we point to the one common theme with mass shootings, they occur in gun-free zones," he said.
Neville, who was first elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2014 and currently serves as the chamber's Minority Leader, has introduced similar legislation every year that he's been in office. Previous attempts have failed to pass the Democratic-controlled House.
In 1990, Congress passed and President George H.W. Bush signed the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act. The legislation, which was sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.), made it unlawful for individuals to carry a loaded or unsecured firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone. The law, which applied to public, private, and parochial K-12 institutions, included a provision allowing state and local governments to issue licenses exempting certain individuals from the blanket prohibition.