CBS News and the Denver Post report that the Board of Hanover School District No. 28 in rural Colorado voted to allow teachers and other staff to carry guns as volunteer security officers in its two schools. Coincidentally, the vote took place on December 14, 2016, the anniversary of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
A Close Vote
The five-member school board voted three to two to approve the program. Mark McPherson, president of the board, told the press that another board member had proposed the idea in June. McPherson voted against the proposal.
Board members worried that law enforcement could not arrive in time to deal with an emergency. The nearest sheriff’s station is 30 miles away. Responding to a shooter also was a major concern. Michael Lawson, the board member who proposed the program, also was concerned that nearby marijuana fields might attract violence.
A Divided Community
Public opinion mirrors the board members’ views. Many parents are opposed to the program for several reasons:
- Children may access the guns;
- Staff may not be adequately trained to deal with a shooting emergency; and
- A staff member who aims at s shooter may miss his or her target and shoot a child.
Opponents also point out that the schools are already locked and equipped with cameras. The district has never had an intruder in the schools. They also disagree with Lawson’s belief that local marijuana growers are connected to foreign cartels.
Implementation: No Guns Just Yet
The board expects to take several months to implement the program. The earliest possible date would be the beginning of the next school year. The staff who volunteer will have to have permits to carry a concealed weapon and undergo training. The board must work out the details of the training and other issues.
No one knows yet how many teachers and staff will volunteer to serve as security. The board’s resolution did not set a limit on the number of guns. There are about 20 teachers in the two-school district.