Should the all schools be required to have armed officers in the building?
Despite a new call from the National Rifle Association proposing just that, BPS administrators are rejecting the idea of introducing more weapons into schools.
“I find it extremely dangerous for a person to possess a weapon in a school,” Deputy Superintendent Paul DeAngelis said. “We continue to direct building staff to treat any weapons, expect those possessed by law enforcement, on school grounds as a threat to safety, and to initiate our lockdown procedures when a weapon is present.”
The current district policy for anyone who brings a gun into a school, regardless of intent, is to lock down the building immediately and make sure all students are safe.
“You don’t confront. We lock down. You call the police. You get everyone safe and you let the police who are seconds away come in and confront,” Principal Dee Lancaster said. “Whether or not that person’s carrying it on a holster or carrying it on their back or actually coming shooting, we aren’t going to confront.”
Lancaster is not in favor of teachers or administrators possessing weapons.
“I don’t think having an armed teacher or an armed principal, hall monitor or liaison officer is necessarily going to stop someone from doing something,” Lancaster said. “I think in some cases it also makes it easier to have bad things happen.”
According to a Highlander survey of Seaholm students and teachers, 72 percent believe there shouldn’t be armed guards in school.
“We’re a school, not a prison,” an anonymous community member said in the survey.
Social Studies and Flex teacher Stacey Olsen said she does not believe guns will help create a safe school for the students at Seaholm.
“The capacity for violence does not build a culture of safety,” Olson said. “Whatever solutions schools come up with need to focus on future problems, not things that already happened.”
December 21, the NRA issued a statement that both expressed their horror and outrage about last month’s Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that left 26 people dead – including 20 kindergarten and first grade students. The statement also outlined their ideas to helping solve gun violence in the US.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said in a December 21 press release. “For the sake of the safety of every child in America, I call on every parent, every teacher, every school administrator and every law enforcement officer in this country to join us in the National School Shield Program and protect our children with the only line of positive defense that’s tested and proven to work.”
Last month, days before the Sandy Hook shooting, legislation passed the Michigan House and Senate that would have allowed licensed, legal gun owners with a concealed weapons permit to bring a concealed weapon into a public school.
Under heavy public pressure, Gov. Snyder vetoed the bill that would have allowed concealed pistol license holders who completed additional training to carry a concealed pistol in schools and other places that currently are off-limits.
“While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security,” Snyder wrote in his veto letter to the legislature. “These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so.”
However existing law still allows weapons in plain sight to be brought into schools.
“While the governor vetoed the gun legislation that was on his desk, the current law still allows a person with a CCW to ‘open carry’ in a school buildings,” said Deputy Superintendent Paul DeAngelis. “I find it extremely dangerous for a person to possess a weapon in a school.”
Michigan Senator John Pappageorge (R-Troy) voted in favor of the vetoed legislation back in November.
“The current law already allows a licensee to carry openly, meaning over their clothing, in places such as schools, churches or hospitals,” said Pappageorge in an email to the Highlander. “Many of my constituents are confused by the term “Pistol Free Zone” because the name implies that no weapons are allowed on the premises.”
The new legislative session began last week. Pappageorge told the Highlander thus far it is not clear if the legislation will try a different version of the bill.
“I was not surprised that [Snyder] would like further discourse on this particular issue although I disagree that it should keep this legislation from becoming law,” Pappageorge said. “As he readily admits in his veto letter, the bill contains many wise and necessary reforms.”
Government teacher Scott Craig does not think guns in schools will help stop someone who is determined to get in.
“I don’t think an armed guard would stop the shooting,” Craig said.
Seaholm has taken more safety precautions in order to keep students safer in the building. These include the locking of all doors, except the ones located in front of the main office and an increased number of hallway monitors.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s department and the homeland security division will be offering Oakland County teachers five sessions about how to react in an active school-shooting situation.
“Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly, which requires people on the scene to be prepared both mentally and physically while waiting for law enforcement to arrive,” Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said in a statement.
According to the survey, future training should not include anything related to school officials handling weapons.
According to the survey, 83 percent of respondents think police should be the only officials allowed to carry guns in schools.
“Heck no[teachers should not have guns]! I know some of my coworkers. Enough said,” Olson said.
Contributed to by Luke Sperling and Victoria Kedarian