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Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Local officials discuss school safety, arming teachers

Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 7:47 PM

By Nichole Osinski / American Press

The question of firearms in and around school campuses has caused debate especially when it comes to student safety. Currently, a number of schools do use armed police offers on campus grounds for security measures.

This School Resource Officers Program places these officers in schools as part of an agreement between the School Board and Sheriff’s Office. Jame McGee, enforcement commander for the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office said deputies placed in schools would not be there unless armed.

There are educators and officials that still feel Louisiana’s policies and security measures could be tightened. District 2 board member Fredman Hardy said schools need to focus on controlled entrances where anyone entering can be monitored.

“I think we need a controlled entrance more than we need guns,” he said. “If I went into some schools I could not go to the offices but I could go directly down the hall. Sometimes it seems like we’re protecting the office more than we are protecting the students and teachers down the hall.”

Representative AB Franklin, Democrat District 34 said that while schools need some form of law enforcement teachers should not be allowed to carry a weapon.

According to Calcasieu Parish School Board President R.L. Webb the board is going back and looking at school security measures.

He said that having armed officers is a necessary precaution but both Hardy and Webb were against arming teachers.

Webb said that not only would teachers have to go through extensive training but it would be difficult to determine if an educator is mentally prepared to handle a gun.

“Teachers are trained to teach children and not trained to shoot people,” he said. “I taught high school and I’ve seen times when kids snap and kids could try to use the gun. I don’t think there ought to be guns in school except for an officer.”

Officers are exempt from the Louisiana Revised Statue RS 14:95.2 “carrying a firearm, or dangerous weapon as defined in R.S. 14:2, by a student or nonstudent on school property, at a school sponsored function, or in a firearm-free zone is unlawful...”

For a concealed carry permit holder it is legal, however, to be within 1,000 feet of a school campus as long as the firearm is on the body and they do not enter the school building.

Louisiana Shooting Association President Dan Zelenka said that Louisiana’s concealed weapon program is put in place for law abiding citizens. If a teacher does have a concealed weapons permit he said that they should be allowed to carry a weapon on school grounds.

“I think that if a person has that permit and they have been through the training they shouldn’t have to leave their gun at home,” said Zelenka. “I think in these cases where they have school shootings having a good guy that’s armed is a whole lot better than waiting for the police.”

He said that if teachers were allowed to carry a gun they should have it on their body for easy access rather than keeping it in a purse or drawer in the case of an emergency.

Joe Andrepont, Calcasieu School Board member for District 12 said school systems should either expand the current armed officer program or contract with a security company that has trained guards.

Andrepont said there is even the possibility of using pepper spray as a deterrent—a security measure he said is not used in area schools. He also agrees with Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president statement that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” made at a press conference in response to the Newtown, Conn. shooting.

“I am a strong supporter of our second amendment and I do not want to see the federal government tampering with removing that amendment,” said Andrepont. “People looking to do harm are doing it in places where they are not protected. There are folks that are capitalizing these situations to exploit their agenda. It’s not guns doing this is people that are unstable.”

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