States Look to Throw Open School Doors to Concealed Weapons

guns_in_school1State lawmakers in nearly 20 states this spring are considering, or have recently considered, bills that would allow guns in k12 schools or on college campuses — including Colorado, Texas, Nevada, Florida, and Georgia.

“There’s definitely a lot of activity this year. In terms of higher ed, we had eight states with bills last year, and now we have 15 — and even one would be absolutely unacceptable,” said Andy Pelosi, executive director of The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus.

Lawmakers in nearly 20 states this spring considering bills that would allow guns in k12 schools or on college campuses

Among the state legislation under current consideration is a bill in Colorado that would allow any individual with a concealed-weapon permit the right to carry guns into K12 schools. One of its chief proponents is a lawmaker who was a sophomore at Columbine High School during the 1999 shooting. But among its opponents is Colorado third-grade teacher Katie Lyles, an NEA member and also a Columbine survivor, who was spurred by the Sandy Hook in school shootings in 2012 to speak up for gun safety.

“I think [the CO bill] a really short-sighted, reactive solution,” Lyles told National Public Radio. “I feel like we need to be looking at a different conversation. And that conversation is, how do we prevent violence from even entering that school.”

Moreover, how do guns and kids safely mix, she asked. “”If I had a gun, kids are around me all of the time. They’re giving me hugs. So where do I keep that gun?”

Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, supports having trained school resource officers carry firearms but is strongly opposed to laws that would allow any non-law enforcement individual, including teachers and other school staff, to bring a gun onto school grounds.

“There is a huge difference between having trained, certified and commissioned law enforcement officers who are full-time, career public safety professionals that are armed and assigned the duty of protecting students and staff versus having teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other non-public safety professionals packing a gun in school with hundreds of children,” said Trump.

However, understanding the implications of these misguided proposals  — and advocating against them — can make a difference. Legislation already has been stopped in Wyoming, South Dakota, and other states.

Guns in Schools – State of the States

According to the California-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the vast majority of states (all except Hawaii and New Hampshire) generally prohibit guns from K12 schools, but there are exceptions. For example, concealed-carry permit holders can carry their firearms into K12 schools in 11 states — including Utah, where an elementary school teacher accidentally shot herself in the leg in a teachers’ bathroom in September.

Meanwhile, seven states have laws empowering permit holders to carry their guns onto public college and university campuses. The most recently added was Idaho in 2014. Meanwhile 20 states specifically ban all guns, while the remaining 23 allow each college and university to make its own decision.

A fourth grade teacher in Utah receives firearms training with a .357 magnum from a personal defense instructor.

A fourth grade teacher in Utah receives firearms training with a .357 magnum from a personal defense instructor.

This year, gun advocates and their big-money lobbyists are making a strong push to increase those numbers, often using the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook, Conn., to further their absurd arguments that guns in schools make schools safer. In addition to the Colorado bill, their efforts include campus-carry bills in Texas, Florida, and Nevada that appear to have real momentum.

In Florida, the bill, which passed a state Senate committee this week, follows a November shooting at a Florida State University (FSU) library, which ended in the fatal shooting of the assailant by quickly responding police. Although national gun lobbyists see this incident as an opportunity to push their own agenda, many Florida faculty, students, and law enforcement officers disagree.

Late last year, the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) at FSU passed a resolution, “suggesting that more deadly firearms on campus will not enhance the safety of our students, faculty or staff,” wrote UFF-FSU President Jennifer Proffitt in the NEA Higher Education Advocate. Campus police chiefs and university presidents also have testified to the bill’s potentially dangerous effects. (See the Stop Guns on Campus petition against Florida’s bill.)

In Nevada, a State Assembly committee passed its campus-carry bill this month, sending it on to the full Assembly. (A similar bill to allow guns in Nevada K12 schools and day care centers failed.) One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, has hijacked the issue of sexual assaults on campuses to promote her legislation, telling The New York Times last month, “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”

Meanwhile, in Texas, the Texas Senate also approved a campus-carry bill this month, which goes next to the Texas House. One of its most vocal opponents is University of Texas Chancellor William McRaven — a retired U.S. Navy admiral who planned the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. “There is a great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds,” he wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

The Public Pushes Back

But in some states, well-organized educators, parents, and advocates for safe schools and campuses have successfully disarmed pro-gun legislators who would have armed public school teachers, college students, and others.

Educators, parents, advocates for safe schools organizing and winning against efforts to allow guns in schools and campuses

In Wyoming this month, the state Senate shot down a bill that would have allowed K12 school districts, as well as public colleges and universities, to decide whether to allow concealed-carry permit holders to take their guns into classrooms and onto campuses. A more permissive version, which didn’t provide local discretion, had passed the House.

Also, in North Dakota, for the second consecutive session, the state Senate put a stop to a similar bill, which also had been approved by that state’s House. Under that bill, chosen individuals — not necessarily school staff members — would have been allowed to carry guns in schools after background checks and safety training. Proponents said it would have helped rural schools without immediate access to nearby law enforcement.

“We definitely can win,” said Pelosi. “We know the public is on our side: it’s just a matter of informing and activating them.”

Photos: Associated Press

  • crawch

    The right to protect yourself is a universal fundamental right. If you don’t want to protect yourself, but instead live vulnerable, then by all means do so – but don’t you dare force anyone else to live as a victim.

  • Ron Boeddeker

    Coincidental that all school shootings occur because they are all “Gun-Free” zones. The criminal/shooter knows in advance that there will be no one to stop them, as they will be the only person there with a firearm…almost guarantees that they can kill anyone they want to without any danger to themselves until the police arrive. Wouldn’t it be better to keep these perpetrators guessing as to which lawful Concealed Carry Holder might just be there to shoot them in the back as they attempt to massacre their fellow students. At just one school shooting in Kentucky awhile back, vs all these other school shootings where nobody else had a gun, a teacher got to his gun in his car and stopped a student who was reloading (I think) and prevented further killing. Teachers should have the means to protect our kids at the very least, because otherwise, nobody will be there at the most critical moment when the bullets are flying and kids & teachers are dying.

  • NiteGoat

    It’s about time.

  • Forrest

    Yeah because we all know how well “Gun Free Zones” work at keeping people safe from wackos that intended to do others harm. We know this, because mass shootings never happen in “Gun Free Zones” right??

  • RumpleForskin D

    It’s been going on in Utah for years guess what? No mass shootings or major incidents.

  • Rick Orcutt

    Too bad all the anti-gun people they quote don’t represent Colorado. There have been many suggestions as to whether or not to allow carry at schools and on campus. The reason the Democrats don’t want it put up to a vote, is that they know it will be overwhelmingly approved and it is not what the Liberal Dumbocrats in Denver want. I love the quotes about how only trained law enforcement should carry guns…I guess they don’t think all of the highly trained people can take care of themselves. These incompetent idiots need to move back to California and New York.

  • Charles25

    “Moreover, how do guns and kids safely mix, she asked. “”If I had a gun, kids are around me all of the time. They’re giving me hugs. So where do I keep that gun?”

    Haven’t you ever seen a police officer wearing an exposed firearm give a kid a hug? A concealed handgun, for example in a pocket holster, would be very difficult for a student to grab. Additionally there are “retention holsters” that won’t allow removal of the firearm by simply pulling on the firearm.
    Ohio has many school districts where teachers, who are already licensed to carry concealed, are given additional training specific to a school environment and then are permitted to carry at school.
    Your hysteria about arming some teachers as above is about as reasonable as my assuming you are a pedophile because you are hugging your students.

    • mmmjam

      Outstanding post.

  • disqus_5KqOo2iJ7v

    Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook were all “gun-free zones”. How did that philosophy work out for you in those places?

  • Nicholas Viccione

    Already here in the Great State of Connecticut They are saying the Hired School Armed officers (guards) are costing Too Much. But Wait! anything to protect our Children ?.. I open carry sixteen hours a day and When I`m around Children AND some adults, They can be STUPID, I am Discreet .

  • mmmjam

    I am a hard core gun rights advocate. That said, we are all entitled to our point of view. It would seem there is a way to find common ground. I know more than one gun owner that has doubt about guns on campus. So why not find a way to ensure that those that carry on campus have some additional training with an endorsement on the CCW? My wife is a teacher; she has a CCW. She works at a HS that has both security personnel and an armed campus police force. It sounds good until you discover the cops cover several schools and response time is little better that the local police. The security guys are super dealing with fights and the like but just what will they do against an armed attacker? There is no perfect answer but one thing is certain, The sooner a good guy with a gun arrives at the scene the better. Will it end the shooting rampage in all cases, no. SO, it is your choice, step up and protect the kids or dial 911 and wait.

  • Steve

    “We definitely can win,” said Pelosi. “We know the public is on our side…”

    She isn’t speaking for me.

    • Val E. Forge

      Pelosi has NEVER spoken for me.

  • Robert Hyannis

    By banning the single most effective means for a 120 lb. college girl to protect herself from her 220 lb. assailant, you will just make it easier for the monsters to prey on their victims. But that seems to be what the “progressives” want anyway; more victims.

  • Eino Yuhare

    Yep, it’d be terrible to allow guns on campuses – just ask the people from this small sampling if they would prefer that guns weren’t allowed:

    Pearl High school
    Parker Middle School
    Appalachian School of Law

    What happened at these schools? A mass shooting was stopped by an armed citizen (OK one was a police officer). These are just three that I could remember off of the top of my head, I’m sure I could find more if I did a quick search.

    We really need to end these deadly “gun free zones”.

  • saved03 .

    Those who oppose this are hypocritical. The children are also in other areas around the community where it is legal for the average Joe to conceal carry & not one peep is mention about it. School grounds & buildings are not a protected property. So what is the difference? Get over your control issues & start protecting our kids instead of allowing them to be murdered with no resistance towards the shooter.

  • Jeff Goldstein

    Gun free zones are always a bad idea. As I parent I support the idea of responsible adults to carry concealed firearms where ever they are. It will make all of our children safer. No law can keep the mentally ill or terrorists from bringing weapons into a school but laws can keep responsible, law abiding from protecting their children and others.

  • Chris Harrison

    When you consider that over the last 50 years, every mass shooting in Europe and all but two in the US have occurred in places where guns are not allowed, I think it past time that we admitted the failure of so called gun free zones. However it takes a spine to recognize and admit the failure and they can be difficult to find in academia.

  • Conrarian

    Wow – no bias in THIS article…
    But it’s good to see that the commenters not only dispute the story slanting but also recognize that protecting the children is paramount.

  • Monique

    I taught in public schools my whole life. I cannot imagine everyone having the right to enter schools with concealed weapons. To subject young children to this behavior, as commonplace, is outrageous! If an adult “hides” a gun somewhere, it’s just a matter of time that it ends up in the wrong hands, very likely a child’s! This whole gun craze is totally out of hand. There are & have been daily shootings, all over the U.S. Giving everyone guns is NOT the answer!

    • lesteram .

      Sweetheart when that thug is coming at you with a knife, I hope your hard disapproving look will stop him. You will merely be another chalk outline on the floor or pavement.

    • Conrarian

      I’m sure that you would have stopped Harris and Klebold in their tracks.

      Maybe not.

  • lesteram .

    Amazingly the bobble headed brain dead anti gun zombie thinks denying a law abiding concealed carry holder the ability to enter a school will make it some how safer. It’s not these people who indiscriminately kill, it’s the crazed mental cases who ignore the law and go on a rampage. Fools, a stupid sign on a door with a red circle and a slash through it with a picture of a gun on it WON”T stop any one. As for the “teacher” if you want to protect your students by carrying a gun you use a “retention” holster which prevents someone from pulling your gun from it. And quit harping on the “gun lobby” and it’s big money until megalomaniac Bloomberg quits trying to buy the law and people with his billions.

  • Dave Weaver

    Opposed to concealed carry in schools?

    Please tell us how well the “current situation” (e.g., Gun Free Zones) are working out for you.

  • Kansas55

    I guess I might react differently if I felt that most of you were being honest. The truth is, you simply love your guns. You don’t actually give a flip about tyranny, protection, or the Constitution. If you really cared about the Constitution, you wouldn’t have a problem with the tens of millions of Muslims that already live in the U.S. If you really cared about your fellow man and how this nation achieved all it has, you wouldn’t have such a problem with immigrants in this country. If you really cared about the Constitution, you wouldn’t have a problem with marriage equality. You simply just love your guns. You love your guns more than your neighbors and any other human beings around you.

    • Matt W

      Of course, this has very little to do with the Constitution or rights or defense as much as they just want to take their gun everywhere because that makes them feel safer–that’s all there is to it. I don’t mind opinions at all, but wish they would be real about it rather than co-opting “God” and the “Constitution” in defense of what’s really just their own wants and interpretations of entitlement.

  • Matt W

    The commenters who want armed students are welcome to your opinions, but please keep it out of our schools. These are places of education, so you they don’t mix well with your ignorance, or the anger and feelings of threat that would drive people to post defensive comments on a neatoday site, which isn’t exactly the “redneck weekly.” No one cares about your rights at home, but once gun culture starts messing with schools and colleges you’ll drive the rest of the public to become activists against you–and we outnumber you, we’re smarter than you, and we will win. Opening your mouth is usually the best argument for gun regulation in most of our minds.

    • Val E. Forge

      “The commenters [sic] who want armed students are welcome to your opinions…” – Guest’s words, not mine.

      We didn’t say we wanted armed students – we want responsible adults the choice (that’s a liberal word, remember) to be armed if they see fit.

      I’ve taught for 30 years and I support the right of responsible adults to be armed at schools. I’m pro-choice on self defense.

  • James Thurber

    As a former police officer who is now teaching 7th grade I have to fall in on the side of prohibiting guns (and most weapons of any sort) from campus – any campus. If teachers want to carry an effective stopping agent there’s nothing quite like bear spray to end a fight. It doesn’t injure but it hurts, it really hurts.

    A teacher has a better chance as hitting a gunman with bear spray (30 foot range) as they do with another firearm, even a shotgun and that’s with extensive training. Nobody is going to die with a face-full of pepper spray but I’ve seen how effective it is against many (extremely) dangerous people. When a gunman can no longer see and are in extreme pain, the fight’s usually over.

    Just my two cents (ok, three cents) worth.

    • Val E. Forge

      There is nothing that inept authority hates so virulently and punishes more vindictively than an amateur practicing without a license showing them up. Cops don’t like armed citizens for the same reason administrators (AND teachers’ unions) don’t like teachers videotaping their students behavior and married women abhor the world’s oldest profession: it could make them seem less necessary.

  • Val E. Forge

    People accidentally hurt and kill others with cars every day. Its a chance you take. If he hurts you accidentally in any way you get your day in court, same as with cars or anything else.

    • Kansas55

      I get really tired of you NRA types comparing guns to cars. You are required to take driver training, get a license, have valid liability insurance, etc. Stop wasting my time…

  • Well we know the author of the story is someone that does not understand that Gun Free Zones are Target Rich Environments…. AS QUOTED FROM ABOVE … “, to further their absurd arguments that guns in schools make schools safer.”
    I ask the author of this story, Do we have armed guards in Banks to protect printed paper? Yes we do, it helps keep the money safer. So I guess the author values printed paper more than human life.