Bill Would Allow Neb. Teachers To Carry Guns
By MARGERY A. BECK
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:37 AM CST
LINCOLN, Neb. — Two weeks after a high school gunman killed his vice principal and injured the principal, a Nebraska lawmaker has introduced a measure that would allow school administrators, teachers and security personnel to carry concealed handguns in school.
Under a bill introduced Tuesday by Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, certain school staff and faculty certified under state law could carry concealed handguns in their schools. The bill would allow the carrying of weapons only if two-thirds of the school’s governing board approved.
Also, students and their parents or guardians would have to receive written notice of the school’s concealed handgun policy.
On Jan. 5 — the first day Millard South High School students returned to school from Christmas break — 17-year-old student Robert Butler Jr. shot Vice Principal Vicki Kaspar and Principal Curtis Case with his police detective father’s service weapon, then shot and killed himself.
Kaspar died; Case is recovering.
Christensen opposed a section in the 2006 concealed carry law that barred people from taking weapons onto public school property or college campuses. Still, he said he hadn’t planned to introduce his bill this session until the shooting.
“People didn’t think there was a need for it,” Christensen said Tuesday. “I think we have seen now there is a need.”
Many schools don’t even allow security officers to carry guns, which leaves students and school employees “helpless in the face of a shooter,” he said.
“Let’s have somebody trained who could step in and stop that situation,” Christensen said.
But allowing staff and faculty to carry weapons in a classroom won’t make schools safer, said Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Washington-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
“I think it sends a very dangerous and damaging message to young people,” Everitt said. “It says to them, ‘We’re not only here to teach you, but shoot you, if need be.”’
Bringing a gun into a school could result in a confrontation escalating into potentially fatal violence, and a violent student could end up taking a gun from an armed teacher, Everitt said.
He faulted concealed carry laws nationwide as too weak.
“In 2009, this country had six mass shootings at the hands of people who had been permitted to carry,” he said. “We still have a very, very weak screening system in this country. There is nothing that ensures someone who is carrying is of sound mind or will responsibly handle that gun.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 42 states and the District of Columbia have banned guns in schools but could not say whether any states allow them.