In response to the January 2011 shooting at a Nebraska high school that killed one school administrator and seriously injured another, Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial has introduced LB 516. The bill would allow security guards, administrators and teachers to carry a concealed handgun at Nebraska public and private schools, including colleges and universities. The policy would be optional and would require a two-thirds majority vote by a school’s governing body, like the school board. In Texas, lawmakers are also preparing to give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus
Is allowing administrators and teachers to bring weapons into a school with hundreds of students and staff a good idea?
Is this a knee-jerk “reaction” that can only lead to more violence and increased liabilities for schools?
Is this another example of law makers missing the target, which should be “prevention” focused rather than “reaction” focused?
If school districts elect to allow teachers and staff to be armed with guns, they would be taking on a significant amount of responsibility and liability and I wonder how schools will deal with some of the following:.
1) Who decides who is carrying firearms in school and when the use of a firearm allowed?
2) Would they be allowed to bring personal weapons or would the district provide firearms?
3) What kind of training/certification would be required to carry a personal firearm in school? Would this become an ongoing training program funded and provided by the school?
4) How would schools prevent a teacher or staff member from being intentionally disarmed by a student or other unauthorized person?
5) What if a teacher or staff member loses, misplaces or has their firearm stolen on campus?
6) Are schools prepared to manage an accidental shooting?
7) What is the impact of this bill on school districts’ insurance and legal liabilities?
At least one Nebraska school superintendent is focused on prevention and on identifying problems before they occur. Chadron’s superintendent believes, “Most often, your best defense is really that relationship piece of the puzzle, that piece that ensures your students are comfortable and feel safe in letting someone in authority know that their friend has been acting strangely or has been making inappropriate comments.”
YES! Schools need to encourage and empower every individual (students, faculty, staff, law enforcement, parents, employees, community members, etc.) to anonymously or non-anonymously report suspicious incidents, red flags and warning signs as soon as they identify them.
Rather than training a few personnel on how to use firearms, all individuals (teachers, staff and students) could be trained to look for early indicators – behaviors and warning signs (bullying, intimidation, threats, harassment, targeted violence, etc.) – that need immediate reporting.
Incident reporting is a critical step, but traditional incident reporting systems and traditional safe school solutions are not working. Schools need innovative incident reporting tools that automatically deliver incident reports to the appropriate personnel (administrators, law enforcement, mental health, etc.) who have authority to intervene and prevent. Innovative incident reporting solutions are needed to help ensure all Security Team members (BIT, TAT, CIRT, etc.) have real-time and secured anytime access to actions taken by other Security Team members , all follow-up actions are documented and automated reminders so warning signs and at-risk individuals do not fall through the cracks.
The answer to school safety is not more guns; schools need to implement proven prevention and intervention programs. With improved situational awareness and innovative information-sharing, schools (and organizations) can prevent incidents, rather than only planning to react to incidents.