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As the school year begins, provisions in a new Oklahoma law allowing designated school personnel to be trained and authorized to carry handguns on K-12 campuses are already being implemented.

Eric Smith, superintendent of the Wilson School District, deep in the heartland of the state, said “In today’s world, you have to do whatever you can to protect your school district and the children who come to school here.”

Noting that rural school districts face a unique challenge in where police response times are long, Ginger Tinney, executive director of Professional Oklahoma Educators, a non-union association representing nearly a third of Oklahoma teachers, said, “We know what happens when law enforcement takes a long time to get out here. Children die.”

School shootings have driven state legislatures around the country to examine how students and teachers can be protected from attacks such as occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Schools have traditionally been “gun free” zones, providing an easy target for an angry or deranged assailant who can gain entry to a school without fear of encountering resistance.

Following the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, legislation was proposed in 33 states to arm teachers or school staff; only five became law and state legislators continue to search for ways to protect students, teachers and staff in K-12 schools.

Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas have also passed legislation allowing school district officials to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Columbine survivor, Patrick Neville introduced similar legislation in the 2105 session of the Colorado General Assembly.

“As was the case in 1999, criminals aren’t deterred by a flashy sign on the door of a school,” said Neville who was a sophomore at Columbine High School in suburban Denver on the day of the school shooting that took the lives of 12 students, one teacher and both teenaged assailants; 24 others were seriously wounded in the attack. His father, Sen. Tim Neville co-sponsored the bill, which did not make it out of committee.

Rep. Neville believes that such a law could have saved more lives at Columbine.

“Our teachers and faculty were heroic in so many ways that day. That’s why I truly believe had some of them had the legal authority to be armed, more of my friends would still be alive today.”

Source: News9 Oklahoma


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