A school board in rural Colorado has voted to allow faculty and staff members who are licensed for concealed carry in the state to do so on campus to protect students in a region where law enforcement officers can be 45 minutes away in an emergency.
The 3-2 vote Wednesday by the board in the Hanover School District 28 was reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette.
The state has a history of school shootings, including the 1999 Columbine shooting, in which two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, shot and killed 12 other students and one teacher. They also wounded 21 others before they killed themselves.
In 2013, a student at Arapahoe High School shot and killed another student before killing himself.
There also have been shootings at churches and church facilities, and at least one mass shooting at a restaurant in the state.
Parent Terry Siewiyumptewa told the newspaper: “It takes 45 minutes to get anyone out here. My son’s life is worth it to do this.”
The rationale for the move is that a faculty member or staff member is on the scene already and could stop violence with an immediate response,
The vote now allows the district to work out the details of any concealed carry plans and make sure employees are trained, board member Mike Lawson told the paper. He is a volunteer firefighter and a National Rifle Association firearms instructor who brought the idea to the board, the report said.
It is expected that those carrying will have to obtain top-level training and take ongoing courses. They would be anonymous.
“Board Vice President Randy Underwood said that while he agrees with the concept, he voted against the measure because he wanted to see more specifics on the required training and who would pay for it,” the Gazette said. “Board President Mark McPherson cast the other opposing vote, saying he would rather the district find the money to hire another school resource officer because the risk of someone overpowering an employee with a gun is too great.”
One student, Jiorgianna McMurtry, told the paper: “Some teachers I’m Ok with; other teachers I’m not really sure they should have guns. Some teachers have anger issues.”
“Colorado law prevents anyone from carrying weapons on school property unless they’re security guards; when properly trained, teachers and volunteers will also be considered security guards, which is how a few Colorado school districts have been able to allow staff to carry concealed handguns,” the paper reported.
Some parents said they favored alternatives like pepper spray and using stun guns.
Deputy Jeff Schulz of the El Paso County Sheriff’s office said in the report response times to emergencies are dropping, but it is an expansive region to cover with three deputies and a sergeant.
He said officers are trained for responses to a variety of situations, and the officers did not take a position on armed staff members.