The House Education committee deferred a vote until Friday on House Bill1087, which would allow school boards to arm staff, security or volunteers on school grounds, following a lengthy hearing this morning.
Testimony from opponents and proponents of the bill was completed and committee members opted to continue discussion on the matter before proceeding with a vote.
ASBSD opposes the bill based on the standing position, voted on by school board delegates in November at Delegate Assembly, for “Safe and Secure Schools” which supports keeping “weapons” away from school grounds.
“More firearms in schools make them unsafe,” Executive Director Wade Pogany testified.
Lead-Deadwood School Board member Orson Ward, a veteran with over 20-years of military experience, echoed Pogany’s statement based on what he personally saw as the required level of discipline to handle a firearm, its increased level of risk, an inevitable accidental discharge or unnecessary use of force and the nature of school safety.
“A school filled with young people is an unforgiving environment, where a miss will prove harmful or even deadlier to innocence” Ward said. “You cannot miss.”
Rep. Scott Craig (33) testified the “gun-free zone sign” outside of schools “presents a soft target” for individuals posing a violent threat. He also noted he’d been working on the bill since November and it had been “misrepresented” as response to recent events.
In December, 20 students and six school employees were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut by a gunman. Rep. Betty Olson (28B) said those events spurred action.
“After the horrible shooting in Connecticut,” Olson testified, “I thought, ‘it’s time to do something.’”
Jeff Marlette, a military veteran and Superintendent in New Underwood testifying on his personal accord, said the reaction to violence in schools needed to be “measured, realistic and balanced” and the threat of gun violence in schools has been minimal, which he attributed to “our schools are doing a good job on safety.”
Pogany said school boards have safety and emergency plans in place to prevent and act upon crisis situations and believes the issue of guns in schools needs to be made at the state level.
“Is it acceptable to let teachers and administrators to carry firearms in a school with children?” Pogany asked. “This is not a debate about local control. Arming teachers and arming administrators is so grave it needs to be decided (in the legislature).”
“Keep kids safe, keep our schools safe and vote no on 1087.”
Be sure to check the ASBSD blog, for updates on Friday’s committee discussion and vote.