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Discussions about concealed weapons in schools should be public

February 22, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The Legislature is considering a bill that would let school boards discuss in secret whether it would be a good idea to permit teachers or principals to carry guns in school.

An amendment to House Bill 1215, which relates to concealed weapons permits, states:

"Any discussion of policy relating to allowing concealed weapons license holders to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon in a school may be held in executive session under the procedure in section 44 - 04 - 19.2."

This proposal – the proposed secrecy, not necessarily the idea of permitting a teacher or principal to carry a gun in school – is a very bad idea. In our highly rural state, where law enforcement is often several miles away, there are probably some circumstances under which it might be wise for a teacher or principal to be permitted to carry a gun at school. A teacher or principal who has been well-trained, is willing to take on the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon and will make sure it is secure and cannot be accessed by children, could protect an isolated rural school from an armed intruder.

These situations are vanishingly rare and I can't see many school boards wanting to permit such a thing, but I imagine there are a handful that would consider it. I also think a school district should probably have a right to keep secret exactly which teacher or principal is carrying a gun, though the local sheriff obviously would know. That kind of "need to know" list might be necessary for the sake of security.

But any school board that does take up such a discussion about whether to permit teachers or principals to carry weapons on school property should do so during open discussion at a public board meeting. People in the school district have a right to hear why the school board thinks this is or is not necessary and understand their decision-making process. This cannot happen when discussion takes place during executive session.

This amendment should be struck from the proposed legislation.

 
 

Article Comments

(15)

angeR69

Mar-02-13 2:49 AM

WA, in Utah, state law has allowed concealed carry permit holders to carry in schools since 2001. In fact it prohibits public schools from enacting or enforcing any rule that would prevent the lawful carry of a firearm. I'm still waiting to hear about a situation in which a Utah public school teacher has gunned down an innocent student over some stupid dispute. Did I mention there have been no mass shootings in Utah schools?

I am completely in favor of lawful concealed carry in ND schools, but I'm not in favor of enacting such legislation on the back of, or in reaction to, the latest school massacre. The discussion needs to happen, but I'm not sure now is the right time. As evidenced by the largely irrational calls for increased gun control, the political arena is too emotionally charged to make rational changes in the law that will stand the test of time.

angeR69

Mar-02-13 1:51 AM

The meetings should be open, and the results should be public. I find it perplexing that lawmakers are concerned that some school districts could be outed as "gun free zones". As of right now, by law, all schools in the state are gun free zones. If the law should change, and the school districts were allowed to make those decisions, I would assume those districts choosing to remain gun free would do so because they believe it is the safer alternative.

WorriedAmerican

Feb-27-13 10:13 AM

What is going to be cut out of the educational budget to pay for all these firearms training, or are the individuals themselves going to pickup the tab themselves?

disgusted

Feb-25-13 7:08 PM

You assume that teachers and administrators have never been trained as soldiers. Not true. Did you listen to the House debate today?

AndreaJohnson

Feb-25-13 4:39 PM

I haven't asked them recently, no, but schools have zero tolerance policies in effect for weapons. Would they drop that policy for adults? If so, it needs to be talked about at a school board meeting.

Hunting is also far different from a crisis situation where an armed gunman has broken in and is aiming a gun at your head or at a child. Teachers and administrators are not trained soldiers or police officers.

disgusted

Feb-25-13 12:39 PM

" Also, people tend to panic in crisis situations and it's likely they won't be able to use the gun or have it turned on them." Are you speaking from your own ineptness? I, too, would probably panic because I have never shot a real gun. But, people trained to remain calm and not to panic. Have you spoken with all of the school administrators? Or is that just another of your assumptions. Hunters are trained and are comfortable with guns.

locomotive

Feb-25-13 11:21 AM

Why "especially in ND" Worried?

WorriedAmerican

Feb-25-13 9:37 AM

Just wait until an innocent student will be shot by a teacher over some stupid dispute. If you put guns in schools you are increasing the chances of gun deaths than decreasing ezpecially in ND.

AndreaJohnson

Feb-24-13 5:41 PM

I don't know too many school administrators who are going to be wild about the idea of having armed teachers in their schools. The danger with having someone carrying a weapon is that a kid may get his hands on it and play with it. If they're locked in a safe somewhere they wouldn't be of much use if an armed intruder walked in the door. Also, people tend to panic in crisis situations and it's likely they won't be able to use the gun or have it turned on them. The armed guard at Columbine didn't prevent the massacre.

I think the small rural schools are probably the ones that might be apt to consider it, considering that a sheriff's office might be 20 to 30 miles away.

Regardless of whether the district is rural or urban, any discussions on the matter should be open to the public.

CJMinded

Feb-24-13 1:12 PM

Andrea, I agree that discussions on public policy by public officials should be in the open and for the most part the are mandated by law to be so (of course with some exceptions..and this I agree should be wide open). I'm a little confused about where you are coming from on the proposal however. Why do you mention that rural schools should be the ones considering this. It would seem you believe in the infallibility and instant availability of police in more urban settings. If so, I'll point out that Columbine had an armed officer on campus exactly when the incident happened. I would argue that ALL students are at risk regardless of local populations and as such ALL students deserve equal consideration when it comes to people (no matter who) being armed in their defense. If I'm wrong in your belief set me straight.

locomotive

Feb-23-13 2:03 PM

Open meetings are probably done with a bit more professionalism than hanging over a fence, backbiting the neighbors.

Sunshine laws, yes. Old gossips, uh...

AndreaJohnson

Feb-23-13 11:59 AM

Sure, you can go to the town busybody and find out everyone's secrets in half an hour, but rumor and gossip aren't always guaranteed to be completely accurate either. Any decisions that are made by a public board need to be made after a public discussion that is open to the press and to the public at large.

WorriedAmerican

Feb-23-13 10:57 AM

There are no secrets in a small community. Every town has a town gossip and no secrets can be kept! Get real here!

locomotive

Feb-23-13 9:47 AM

ND has a long history of "sunshine laws" that have served the residents well. I agree that this should all be done in broad daylight. Law-abiders have nothing to fear from honest, open discussion, and a well-informed public is a better public, IMO.

EarlyBird

Feb-23-13 9:34 AM

There is no such thing as a secret in politics or government so why try to insinuate that there could be. I'm in favor of letting people have a means of defending themselves whenever and wherever necessary.

 
 

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