Teachers hold guns at some U.S. schools
September 13, 2008 3:37 PM
In response to recent school shootings around the country, some campuses and state legislatures now allow students, faculty and staff to carry guns for protection.
The University of Utah as well as Harrold Independence High School in Texas are at the center of this controversy in allowing concealed weapons for those who qualify.
Coralie Alder, the Utah spokeswoman stresses that even though the focus is solely on the university, it is actually a statewide matter.
“During the 2007 legislative session, a bill was passed which allows concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns on college and university campuses,” she said. “It required the university to change its policy of almost 30 years that did not allow faculty, staff or students to bring guns to campus.”
In order to get a concealed weapon permit in the University of Utah, the applicant must be at least 21 years old, have no prior criminal record of violent or substance-related crime, and he or she must be mentally competent, according to the American CCW, an organization that offers courses and permits for concealed weapons and firearms in Utah and Florida.
“The 2007 bill does allow one exception.” Alder said. “Students residing in on-campus housing can ask to be moved if their roommate has a permit and brings his/her gun to campus,” Alder said, however, that no student has asked to be moved.
Despite much support for this growing development, most school authorities feel that it is unnecessary, and that it could cause more harm than good.
“Weapons have no place on a campus except in the hands of sworn police officers,” SF State President Robert A. Corrigan said. “Allowing guns on campus does not make schools safer, but more volatile and more dangerous.”
However, officials of Harrold Independent High School seem to think otherwise, having recently made headlines for being the first high school in the nation to change its laws regarding guns on campus around the same time Utah did.
The 2007 school board decision permits teachers and staff to carry guns, which was approved by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Harrold School District Superintendent David Thweatt said that the purpose of this law is “to arm the good guys in order to deter the bad.”
Each high school employee who wants to carry a weapon must first take a personality test and training course in crisis management, according to Thweatt. In addition, those who qualify are only able to use special ammunition to minimize the risk of ricocheting, where a bullet hits the surface and bounces away in a different direction.
This relatively new movement has found many supporters, and even fashioned an Internet based community called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC).
The SCCC is “a national organization comprised of more than 30,000 members, who support the right of concealed handgun license holders to carry concealed handguns on college campuses,” the group's Web site said.
W. Scott Lewis, board member and spokesman for the SCCC, believes that states allowing concealed weapons on campus have the safest schools in the nation.
SF State students have so far not expressed any interest in having a branch of the SCCC registered on campus, according to Student Services.
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