Guns in schools 2

Educators don’t want guns in class

Panel hears the good, bad, and ugly about guns in schools

UW, college presidents,districts, teachers, police oppose HB 105

The haunting tones of the theme to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly rang from Wyoming Gun Owners Association Director Anthony Bouchard’s cell phone as yet another witness stepped up to tell the Senate Education Committee why it’s a bad idea to allow concealed guns in state schools, community colleges, and at athletic events. Bouchard quickly turned the sound off, but not before Chairman Hank Coe asked if Clint Eastwood was joining the packed hearing of HB 105, Citizens’ and Students Self-Defense Act. The bill opened the door to guns in schools by allowing school employees with concealed carry permits to take a concealed gun into school district buildings after notifying the school district superintendent and school principal or other person responsible for a district building. University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan outlined a long list of reasons why the UW campus should remain gun free, chief among them the fact that college-age students are much safer on university campuses that bar guns compared to the risks they face off campus. Weapons in classrooms “would have a chilling effect” on academic instruction for both students and faculty, he said. Jason Vela, chief of police for the Northern Wyoming College District said the Gillette campus has well-trained officers. He was among many speakers who noted that obtaining a concealed carry permit does not require any crisis training. Proponents hit the gun lobby’s often recited talking points that ‘a good guy with a gun might stop a bad guy with a gun’ and that recent gun mass gun shootings have taken place in “gun-free zones.” Bill sponsor Rep. Allen Jaggi referred to holders of state concealed carry permits as “this select group.” But opponents noted that a person pulling a private weapon to fire at a shooter might find himself the target of a SWAT team responding to an emergency at a school. “A person with a gun will be taken out,” said Steve Barlow, assistant dean for student services at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. Others expressed worries that students would quickly learn which teachers “carry” and could try to get their guns. One administrator expressed deep concern about allowing guns in school athletic events. He said he once had to shield a door to a referees’ dressing room from a hostile crowd. He said he faced them down but wondered how differently he would have reacted if he knew the crowd was armed. Others noted that virtually all teachers have stories of confrontations with angry parents. Some get physical, one Cheyenne administer said. He reported that a parent had to be pulled off a school employee the parent attacked in a school office. Upon conclusion of nearly two hours of testimony, Chairman Coe called for a motion. When none of the committee members offered a motion on the bill, Coe declared HB105 dead for the session. (Editor’s note: Jason Vela’s name and title were corrected Feb. 9.)

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