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Discussions about concealed weapons in schools should be public
February 22, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The Legislature is considering a bill that would let school boards discuss in secret whether it would be a good idea to permit teachers or principals to carry guns in school.
An amendment to House Bill 1215, which relates to concealed weapons permits, states:
"Any discussion of policy relating to allowing concealed weapons license holders to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon in a school may be held in executive session under the procedure in section 44 - 04 - 19.2."
This proposal – the proposed secrecy, not necessarily the idea of permitting a teacher or principal to carry a gun in school – is a very bad idea. In our highly rural state, where law enforcement is often several miles away, there are probably some circumstances under which it might be wise for a teacher or principal to be permitted to carry a gun at school. A teacher or principal who has been well-trained, is willing to take on the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon and will make sure it is secure and cannot be accessed by children, could protect an isolated rural school from an armed intruder.
These situations are vanishingly rare and I can't see many school boards wanting to permit such a thing, but I imagine there are a handful that would consider it. I also think a school district should probably have a right to keep secret exactly which teacher or principal is carrying a gun, though the local sheriff obviously would know. That kind of "need to know" list might be necessary for the sake of security.
But any school board that does take up such a discussion about whether to permit teachers or principals to carry weapons on school property should do so during open discussion at a public board meeting. People in the school district have a right to hear why the school board thinks this is or is not necessary and understand their decision-making process. This cannot happen when discussion takes place during executive session.
This amendment should be struck from the proposed legislation.
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