School boards oppose arming teachers
February 17th, 2011
Lincoln, NE- A proposal to let teachers carry guns in schools drew strong opposition in a legislative hearing Wednesday.
Senator Mark Christensen of Imperial introduced the bill after an incident last month when a Millard South High School student fatally shot one administrator and wounded another before killing himself. Christensen’s aide Dan Wiles opened the hearing reading a statement from the senator referring to the incident.
“As a society, how should we respond to such senseless violence?” he asked. “The way I see it, we usually respond in one of three ways: We either resign ourselves to the idea that this is just the way things are now, and do nothing, or we crack down by taking freedoms away, which usually affect law-abiding people the most, or we give people more freedom to defend themselves. Most of you know that the latter is how I lean.”
Christensen’s bill would allow teachers, administrators and security personnel to carry concealed weapons in Nebraska schools and colleges. The action would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the governing body, like the school board. And those carrying would have to qualify under the state’s concealed carry law.
The proposal drew support from Andy Allen, president of the Nebraska Firearm owners Association, and several individuals. It was opposed by representatives of the NSEA school employees union and Nebraska private colleges, the security director for Lincoln Public Schools, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln police chief. Brian Hale, representing the Nebraska Association of School Boards, said more guns in schools would probably increase risks.
“At any given time, students or others may find a way to wrestle those away in some manner if they feel so compelled,” he said. “It just … seems to be one of those things that the safety of schools probably is going to be ensured by having fewer weapons in the building, as opposed to more.”
Lincoln Senator Amanda McGill said she would prefer having more mental health counselors available. Lincoln Senator Colby Coash read a letter from a student suggesting a teacher might snap, or mistake a student searching for something in a backpack for someone going for a weapon. Omaha Senator Brad Ashford said he’s concerned about schools that don’t have the resources to have professional security guards if they need them, but added that’s a separate issue.