A rural school district in Colorado decided this week that teachers and other school staff members will be permitted to carry firearms on campus to protect students, according to this story from abcnews.com.
The story says that Hanover School District 28, composed of two schools and 270 students, voted 3-2 to allow school employees to volunteer to be armed on the job after completing a training program.
A similar policy was recently put in place in a school district in Colorado’s sparsely populated Eastern Plains, the story says, and an undisclosed number of teachers and employees are currently being trained. The school board in that district approved the measure in July largely out of concern for the time it would take law enforcement to respond should an incident occur.
Proponents of the measure in the Hanover district have the same concerns, as they are surrounded by empty miles of high, rolling plains southeast of Colorado Springs.
In this story from the LA Times, Terry Siewiyumptewa, 50, a parent of a Hanover student, articulated the concern quite succinctly.
“If I need a deputy, it will take 30 to 45 minutes to get here,” she said in the story. “How long did Sandy Hook take? Thirteen minutes? And 26 people were dead? So now you understand our problem.”
Even though the training costs about $3,000 and the district will have to spend an undetermined amount on firearms an ammunition, officials say it makes more fiscal sense than hiring a security officer to protect the school, the story says.
School board member Michael Lawson said in the Times story that he felt the schools in his district are vulnerable to would-be attackers because of “the dozens of marijuana growers in the area whom he alleges have links to “Cuban and Colombian” drug cartels.”
He then suggested a plan to allow trained faculty and staff to carry guns on campus. The vote was actually held on the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, but Lawson said the timing was a coincidence.
In the ABC story, board President Mark McPherson, who opposed the measure, said a survey showed the community was split on the issue and that there is only one marijuana growing operation within 5 miles of the district and that comments about cartel involvement int he area are unconfirmed rumors.
Both medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Colorado.
McPherson said the school’s current security measures are enough to protect its students. The buildings are outfitted with “secured doors, cameras, and an armed school resource officer shared with five other schools.”
The LA Times story reports The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence says nearly all states forbid firearms in K-12 schools but only 39 states and the District of Columbia apply this to those with concealed carry permits. Twenty states have restricted guns on college campuses.
California requires written permission from authorized school officials before anyone with a concealed carry permit can bring a gun onto either a K-12 or college campus, according to the law center. Currently, three California school districts allow teachers and staff to carry a gun on campus. And there are efforts underway in other states, like North Dakota, to give teachers similar rights.