Superintendents dismiss concealed weapons bill

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February 15th, 2011

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Lincoln, NE- Should Nebraska’s teachers, administrators and security personnel be allowed to carry concealed weapons? In the wake of shootings at Millard South High School, state lawmakers are considering this proposal with a public hearing scheduled this week.

Students streamed out of Millard South High School, after a teen gunman opened fire Jan. 5 (Photo Anthony Davis)

NET News contacted half dozen school officials across Nebraska and none said they want their teachers and staff carrying concealed weapons. Kearney School Superintendent Brian Maher said he thinks the bill has good intentions, but the wrong approach.

“My guess is the bill is grounded in a good theory,” he said. “The theory being we need safe schools. I wholeheartedly agree with that premise. I don’t agree with the premise though that schools would be safer with everybody having guns in them.”

Administrators say bringing weapons into schools increases access to them. Steve Joel is the superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools.

“If more adults have guns, more people have access to them,” he said. “We have to step up and ramp up our security measures, that’s just the times we live in today, and in fact we’re doing that in LPS, but let’s not bring any more guns in the school.”

Sherman Public Schools Superintendent Carolyn Winchester says carrying weapons sends the wrong message and detracts from the overall message of school.

“It’s a tremendous responsibility we have to try and ensure … safety,” she said, “and at the same time, make it an inviting and welcoming place, that kids want to be, that parents want to be, that everyone feels comfortable in.”

Although he doesn’t agree with the measure, Lincoln High School Principle Mike Wortman sees some value in the proposal. “Perhaps this bill was introduced to help increase the conversations we have about school safety,” he said. “and I think that’s important. We should talk about ways to make school safe, but I’m not sure this is a solution that most educators I talk too would agree with.”

The Legislature’s judiciary committee will hear testimony on the proposal Feb 16.

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