CU-Denver accidental shooting: Now ex-staffer trying to unjam gun when it fired
Original post, November 13, 2:58 PM After winning a long battle to allow those with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto campuses in Colorado, a gun-rights organization is now responding to what appears to be the first-ever accidental discharge on a local campus from someone with the proper permit. The staffer who fired a shot at the University of Colorado suffered injuries -- as did another individual in the room.
The incident took place on Friday inside an Anschutz Medical Campus office, according to a university spokesman. Although no one was hospitalized, it's likely that heated debates around bringing guns on campus will resurface in response to the accident.
The discussion around the regulations of guns on campus in Colorado made headlines in March when the Colorado Supreme Court ordered CU to allow concealed-carry-permit holders to have guns on campus. In August, however, CU-Boulder announced that it would be restricting access to guns in undergraduate dorms and at events -- a move that gun rights groups opposed.
Sam Levin An anti-gun poster at a Denver peace march over the summer.
The main organization that has lobbied for permit holders is Students for Concealed Carry, a national group that originally filed a lawsuit against CU in 2008, arguing in part that a ban against concealed weapons contradicted state laws.
Part of that organization's argument has been that concealed-carry permit holders have a right to bring guns everywhere else, so banning such weapons on campus is discriminatory. In addition, the group says, those with concealed-carry permits face background checks and have gone through training. Forcing them to disarm, then, would not increase safety on campus, and could possibly cause it to decline.
No wonder the group was disappointed to learn about the CU shooting -- especially since the gun holder in question had a permit.
According to CU spokesman Dan Meyers, a staff member of the School of Dental Medicine took a gun out in an office, after which it accidentally went off.
"The person with the gun and one other person were very slightly injured," he says.
It is not known yet if the other person was a student or an employee. The injuries were not serious enough to require either of those hurt to go to the hospital, but it's unclear at this time what kind of injuries were actually sustained.
The police are investigating the matter, and the staffer who fired the shot is currently on administrative leave, Meyers adds.
Officials with Students for Concealed Carry say this is the first time there has been any accidental discharge of a gun by a concealed-carry permit holder on a campus in Colorado, and only a handful of such incidents have taken place on campuses across the nation.
"We are, of course, concerned about the incident," says Kurt Mueller, the group's director of strategy. "We would like to remind everyone in possession of firearms that it's important to follow basic rules of firearm safety. We would infer from this incident that that was not done in this case."
Still, Mueller says he is worried about the potential backlash the incident could spark -- an unmerited reaction, he believes, since such accidents are rare and permitted gun holders are responsible.
"It's not indicative of anything," he says. "Concealed carry is a reality of life in Colorado...and has been for many years.... This could have happened anywhere..... There's nothing about the college environment itself that led [to] this accident.... The fact that this happened at a college is almost irrelevant."
Mueller points out that guns have been allowed at Colorado State University since 2003 and at all public universities in Utah in 2006, yet there have been virtually no incidents like this one.
"My basic argument is this: We're trying to change where people can carry, not who can carry. If you're a citizen of Colorado, you are around people who are...carrying all the time," he says. "Do you ever go to the grocery store? Do you ever go to the mall?... Do you ever walk down the street?... The question is not, why should this be allowed? The question is why should this be banned [on campuses]?... Do you have reason to believe that people...are suddenly going to become wildly irresponsible as soon as they walk on campus?"
Continue for response from organizations that have opposed the policy to allow guns on campuses in Colorado.