Lawmakers are on the move to pass gun laws that could prevent another tragedy, like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, while school districts ask themselves if trained school personnel should be permitted to carry concealed weapons in schools.
Most teachers interviewed in Webster Parish felt teachers should not carry concealed weapons at school.
“I don’t want the responsibility of having a gun,” said Linda Reed, teacher at Harper Elementary. “I propose there be an officer at schools.”
Todd Aulds, a 6th grade teacher at Phillips Middle School agrees with part of her reasoning, but sees the issue differently.
“We shouldn’t arm every teacher; only designated teachers that are trained in shooting, passed a mental background check that could respond in an event if possible,” he said. “I think the rest should be left to authorities. I feel that we should have an officer at school.”
He continued to say that he is concerned that if kids know their teacher has a gun, they would be distracted, in fear of the teacher or that an accident would occur.
Superintendent Steve Dozier believes that times have changed and wants to protect the safety of the children and the staff but is unsure if teachers carrying weapons is the answer.
“I am against teachers having guns,” said Dozier. “My concern is if the teacher is in the classroom and a kid gets it – that’s an issue.”
Dozier is in favor of school officers and believes they are a deterrent. But the district would have to pay for them and funds are not available in the current budget.
“We would have to do cuts somewhere else to have 15 officers in Webster Parish schools,” he said. “And would it really stop it (the school shootings)? Chances are the security officer, if identified, would be taken out first by the shooter. Not anything is 100 percent.”
One school custodian said he is concerned with what would happen if a student gets the gun (concealed weapon brought by school personnel) and feels that if the teacher can bring a gun to school, the children may try bring one as well.
Safety seems to be the biggest concern for parents and children. Teachers are concerned with students possibly accessing the gun if it was in the classroom.
“I am on the fence,” said Holli Carrigan, a teacher at Harper Elementary. “I don’t want to be responsible for the gun and would worry about the kids if they can get it. If the principal had one, I would be for it ... but only if it was locked up.”
Parents interviewed want to keep the guns out of the children’s hands, as well.
“I would be for it, if kept in a lock box so it’s not accessible to kids,” said Angela Davis, mother of two children.
Lawmakers are concerned with individuals’ safety and are pushing for more gun control.
“These assault magazines help put the ‘mass’ in ‘mass shooting’ and anything we can do to stop their proliferation will save lives in America,” said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, whose husband was killed and her son critically wounded in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad in New York in 1993.
According to a national news source, Rep. McCarthy led the fight on the Democratic side of the aisle. She’s sponsoring legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales -- including at gun shows -- and ban online sales of ammunition. McCarthy is also co-sponsoring a bill to ban high-capacity magazines with Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado.
Mental health has also been a concern with the issue of guns.
“I am concerned with the liability if innocent students are injured,” said Det. Lt. Scott Tucker of the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Tucker also feels the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPA) laws need to be rewritten and when a person with a mental health issue applies for a gun, it should be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Meanwhile, two freshmen Congressmen, Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas and Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, have introduced bills that would allow more guns around schools.
“Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones,” Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) said during the December press conference. “They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
Some laws in states, such as Utah, specifically says a concealed firearm permit holder can carry a loaded and hidden gun into public schools.
“But we’ve had this policy in practice in Utah for many years, and we’ve never had been a single problem,” David Kopel, analyst with the Cato Institue and research director at the Denver University Independence Institute said. “And, quite notably, we’ve never had an attack on a Utah school.”