By Rick Badie
State Rep. Paul Battles, of Cartersville, has proposed legislation that would allow school administrators to undergo annual state peace officer firearms training and be certified to carry weapons on campus. Though he supports HB 35, a guest columnist says state law already allows administrators to possess firearms on campuses. A retired pediatrician suggests addressing gun control in a multifaceted manner.
Existing law allows armed principals
By John Monroe
GeorgiaCarry.Org agrees with the general proposition ensconced in HB 35, that our schools would be safer if responsible citizens could be armed on campus. GeorgiaCarry also agrees that firearms training is a good idea for everyone, even those who do not own or carry firearms. The specifics of HB 35, however, make the bill difficult to incorporate into existing law.
HB 35 would permit school boards to designate certain school administrators to undergo state Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) instruction and then be authorized to carry firearms in schools. The difficulty is that existing law already is more expansive than that. Under O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.1(c)(6), a “duly authorized official of the school” may authorize anyone (not just school administrators) to carry a firearm at a school. Presumably, a school principal is a duly authorized official and may therefore authorize anyone, including himself or herself, to carry a firearm. Existing law has no training requirement.
If enacted, HB 35 would create another avenue by which a school administrator could be armed at school, by permission of the school board. It seems highly unlikely, however, that the provisions of HB 35 ever would be utilized. Given that the school principal already has the power to arm herself, her staff, her teachers and even her students’ parents, going through the more cumbersome steps of seeking school board approval and paying for training in a course that has not yet been developed are not likely to be pursued.
In addition to existing avenues for school officials to authorize anyone to carry firearms at schools, existing law also permits those with weapons carry licenses to carry firearms in schools under certain circumstances, without the knowledge or consent of school officials. Under O.C.G.A. 16-11-127.1(c)(7), a person with a license may carry a firearm in a school “when such person carries or picks up a student.” Licensees also may have firearms in their cars in school parking lots. Many parents take advantage of these provisions today on a regular basis when they take their children to and from school.
Georgia has a vast, untapped resource available to it to help protect its schools. There are some 600,000 Georgians with weapons carry licenses who have undergone criminal and mental health background checks by state and federal law enforcement agencies. Many of them are administrators, staff, teachers and parents who regularly are present on school grounds. Modifying the law so that such people are not prohibited from carrying firearms in school buildings, even when not picking up or dropping off students, would immediately enhance the ability of Georgia schools to protect themselves against aggressive attacks.
John Monroe is vice president of GeorgiaCarry.Org.
Let us make our children safe
By Noel Preston
Georgia has 2,487 public schools. The last fatal school shooting was at Monticello in August 1999. It makes no sense to pay, train, equip and insure 2,487 school principals to patrol schools that have had no fatal shootings for 13 years.
Some of our school campuses are so large, the principal and the invader might be a quarter-mile from each other, and the invader could shoot dozens of children before being shot or captured. The principal might be at an off-campus meeting when the invader arrived. The principal could hardly be expected to maintain firearm proficiency by having only two days a year of shooting practice. Expecting a principal to risk his or her own life without receiving a substantial pay raise and necessary health insurance for hazardous duty seems unfair and unrealistic.
Many factors make it easy for invaders to shoot school children. A sensible approach to reduce school shootings must be multifaceted as well. Some shooters were victims of bullying; reducing bullying at school is an obvious first step. Children are not afraid of metal detectors at airports, and would not be afraid of them at school, either.
Claiming “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is absurd. Too many small children accidentally kill their parents, siblings and other folk while playing with a gun that was supposedly locked up, unloaded and out of reach. Making it harder for anyone to get any firearm is critical. Requiring gun buyers to have criminal background checks and their drivers’ licenses screened for previous road rage or aggressive driving events, and addressing previous mental health concerns by providing prescription records for mind-altering drugs before being allowed to purchase a firearm, are all logical steps to curtail mass shootings. So is closing the loophole that waives the requirement for criminal background checks for purchasers of firearms sold at gun shows.
Gun control advocates claim the Second Amendment was written to protect the rights of farmers to have single-shot squirrel rifles, not to allow crazy people to have assault rifles. When the Second Amendment was written, the “government” didn’t have assault rifles, either.
Any attempt to bring about gun control must not interfere with the right of the citizenry to bear arms. The Second Amendment is one of the reasons America went to war against England in the first place. It’s not going away.
Now, while the images of freckle-faced little children, some of them missing their two front teeth, stare at us from the pages of newspapers and television screens, now, while their faces cry out to us for action, now, while we feel ashamed for failing to protect them, now we must act.
Get rid of the assault rifle. Get rid of armor-piercing bullets and anti-personnel ammunition. Only an outright ban on these machines of murder, these instruments of killing innocent young children who still dream of puppies and tooth fairies and Santa Claus, will do any good.
And let us make our children safe.
Noel Preston is a retired Atlanta pediatrician.