If responses from parents, administrators and a school board member in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District were any indication of whether teachers and staff should carry concealed weapons in school, it won’t happen anytime soon.
When asked at the district’s community safety forum Monday night whether they were in favor of school district employees carrying guns, not one of the four parents (including a school board member), the superintendent or a building principal said they wanted to see it happen.
“I’m not an advocate for it,” Superintendent Karen Trusler said. “We were hired to teach and educate. Our teachers went into the profession to teach and protect children, but not through by being harmed themselves. Should we get to that level, there are other alternatives that we can do versus arming teachers.”
A Democratic Senate committee voted on a party-line 3-2 decision to reject the guns-in-schools bill Monday night. The bill would have permitted local school districts in Colorado to decide whether teachers, administrators and other school employees could carry concealed weapons in school or on campus if they have permits.
Tempy Bowman, an Re-4 school board member who has three kids enrolled in the school district and whose wife also teaches in the district, isn’t in favor of school district employees carrying a concealed weapon.
“I’m not for having armed teachers. It’s a lot of pressure on the teacher. They have enough to worry about with all the standards that the state puts down on us,” Bowman said. “I think there’s some great safety measures that the schools have in place. We can’t have a knee-jerk reaction and change everything we do. Unfortunately, I think society has more of a mental health issue than being properly armed issue. Someone with mental health problems, all the armed people in the world won’t stop them if they want to cause destruction.”
Bowman is OK with having a Windsor police officer patrolling every school versus having armed teachers on campus.
“My dad had a good line. He’s a principal in Kansas, and has been a teacher his whole life,” said Justin Webb, a parent with a kindergartner at Tozer Primary School. “He said, ‘If I wanted to carry a gun, I would have become a cop.’ While I’m a big proponent of the Second Amendment, I don’t think teachers should be carrying guns. There’s too many factors that can go wrong. My dad’s a hunter, and I grew up hunting. Guns don’t scare me, but I don’t think teachers carrying guns is right. The key is to make sure it’s as difficult to get in if you don’t belong there as possible.”
Jessica Freitag, a parent of a high schooler and middle schooler, doesn’t think teachers carrying a concealed weapon will solve the problem.
“I think guns around kids are never a positive thing,” Freitag said. “I would not feel safer. Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t qualify you or make you the kind of person that wants a weapon. Not every teacher wants to be carrying a gun. I think it might be inviting more trouble than preventing what they’re trying to prevent.”
Grandview Elementary School Principal Dave Grubbs, a hunter who grew up around guns and who has taken gun-safety classes, said the responsibility is much bigger than having a weapon in a teacher’s hand.
“Situational awareness, understanding people in general, preventative measures ... those are more important things than just giving someone a weapon,” Grubbs said. “I’m more open minded to talk about it just from my own personal background, but I’m not one who is going to go out and advocate that this is the right path to take to solve our problems. I think it’s a quick fix in some ways, and it will really ease a few peoples’ minds and that may be very huge, but I think you’ll have an equal number of people that it’s going to cause more anxiety. If a teacher or administrator loses that weapon on campus, you’ve escalated the problem potentially even more. I’m not sure putting a gun in a teacher’s hands or a principal’s hands just as a quick fix is the best way to go yet.”
Kelly Moore, a parent who has a kindergartner at Grandview, said the school district can work with the police department to secure the schools.
“If you’re going to have weapon on campus, I think it should be a very trained individual,” Moore said. “I don’t know that teachers went to school to have to put a gun in their pocket. I think their accountability should be on a different level. I don’t think principals should have weapons either.”