Wednesday night, the Hanover School District 28 in El Paso County, Colorado, voted to allow trained teachers and staff members to carry guns while on campus so that they can protect students if the schools in the district ever come under attack by international or homegrown terrorists. The school board members voted 3-2 to allow the measure to pass.
The Chicago Daily Herald reported that proponents on the Colorado school board argued that the school district is a rural one, made up of only two schools, with only 270 students, and it takes around 20 minutes for police to arrive there. Armed teachers and staff members might deter anyone who possibly otherwise would consider planning an attack on a school in the district, like the one carried out at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
The measure allowing school and staff members to be armed while in school was coincidentally passed on the fourth anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook, according to FOX News. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that in that mass shooting, “20 students and six employees were killed.”
Hanover School District 28, according to the Chicago Daily Herald, is located “about 30 miles southeast of Colorado Springs.” The small school district shares just one “armed school resource officer with four other school districts.”
Besides the relative remoteness of the Hanover School District in Colorado, and the idea that having armed teachers and staff members would potentially protect students from a mass shooting, another argument mentioned by Hanover School Board member Michael Lawson was arming teachers and staff members could protect the students from “possible violence connected with nearby marijuana grows.” The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Lawson believes the marijuana growing operations “are connected with foreign cartels.”
One person who opposed arming teachers and staff members was the president of the school board, retired Army officer Mark McPherson. He said that the reason he was opposed and voted against the measure was he did not think the training “would be enough to help them respond effectively to an active shooter.”
McPherson also voiced the concern that the armed teachers and staff members might fire at an armed shooter and miss, and possibly hit a student. A third concern he expressed was the risks associated with having guns in the school building and proper storage of the weapons. He said that the teachers and staff should leave the protection of the students up “to the professionals.”
On the subject of marijuana grow operations in the area, McPherson said he only knew about one that was “within about 5 miles of the schools.” He stated that the idea of cartel involvement in the area is, at this point “just rumors.”
With the passing of the resolution, the district can now “come up with specific policies and a plan to move forward.” The resolution that was passed by Colorado’s Hanover School District 28’s school board will allow volunteer staff “to obtain permits to carry concealed handguns on school property.” To be able to be armed with guns on school property, the volunteers “will be required to obtain post-certification training and ongoing courses and remain anonymous.”
By John Samuels