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Debate Over Guns in Schools Reignites After Colorado District Votes to Arm Teachers

Debate Over Guns in Schools Reignites After Colorado District Votes to Arm Teachers

On the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the Hanover School District school board in Colorado voted 3-2 to allow teachers and school staff to carry firearms on school premises so long as they undergo proper training.

Though the vote has been in talks for a while, the fact that it falls on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting is fitting; the debate over whether or not to arm teachers directly followed the school shooting that shook the nation.

According to The Colorado Springs Gazette, the rural Colorado district serves 270 kids and is about 20 minutes away from the nearest police station. Community leaders have become increasingly concerned about school safety, the paper says, since marijuana cultivation operations have opened up miles within the school.

Board member Michael Lawson discussed the idea of arming school staff while addressing these safety concerns during a June meeting.

His argument is very similar to the many people who feel that arming school staff is the way to stop potential intruders.

"I don't care if any of the staff ever pick up a gun... The fact that you have a 'No guns' sign at your front door is an invitation. If this resolution passes, we can put up a sign, 'Some staff at this school may be armed.' To me, that's a deterrent," Lawson said, according to The Gazette.

For others, the idea that school staff members who potentially might not have prior experience with firearms can now wield them in a school setting is unnerving.

"We haven't seen the need, and I think arming individuals who are not trained to operate with weapons on a daily basis puts everybody in the building at risk," said Board President Mark McPherson to The Colorado Springs Gazette.

But, as The Gazette notes, interested teachers will have to take some kind of training before bringing their weapons to school.

"...interested teachers and other staff would need to possess or obtain a concealed handgun permit, be approved by the board for security guard status and take post-certification training that includes instruction on shooting a firearm," The Gazette says.

When Hanover School District residents and staff members were surveyed, they were evenly split for and against arming teachers. The split opinion represents the national division on the subject, which was briefly discussed during the 2016 presidential campaign.

After President-elect Donald Trump declared he would abolish gun-free zones in schools on his first day in office, opponent Hillary Clinton challenged the idea during a public appearance.

"Parents, teachers, and schools should have the right to keep guns out of classrooms, just like Donald Trump does at many of his hotels, by the way," she said during her speech.

Trump, on the other hand, responded with a thought process very similar to Lawson’s.

"The problem with gun-free zones is it's like offering up candy to bad people... They hear gun-free zones and they go in there with their guns blazing," he said, according to CNN.

"If trained people had guns, you wouldn't have the carnage that you've had."

Education World asks its readers: Do you feel safer getting rid of gun-free zones in schools? Take our survey below.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

12/16/2016

Would you feel safer if your school was a gun-free zone?

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