NE state senator plans second try at arming educators


by Brian Washington

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Although efforts failed about three years ago, a Nebraska state senator is going to try again this legislative session to pass a bill that would arm teachers and faculty on K-12 school grounds and college and university campuses, but, this time, the bill will be limited to rural areas.

The lawmaker, who happens to be one of the strongest gun advocates in the state legislature, believes the climate for his bill—which would allow educators to carry concealed firearms—may have improved following the deadly shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Last year, in the aftermath of Newtown, state lawmakers in legislatures nationwide introduced more than 30 bills designed to allow school personnel or volunteers to carry firearms—with six states passing such legislation.

Currently, in Nebraska, only law enforcement officers can carry guns in schools and on college and university campuses. The leader of Nebraska State Education Association—which represents 28-thousand school teachers and other education professionals across the state—believes giving guns to school personnel is a bad idea.

I would say there has been absolutely zero interest in arming teachers,” said Nancy Fulton, NSEA President. “We are very opposed to having any type of gun in school.

School board members and superintendents have also joined Fulton in opposition to the idea of arming educators.  Some have also worried that doing so might create liability insurance problems.

NSEA is an affiliate of the National Education Association, which represents about 3 million educators across the nation.  The NEA is also against arming educators.  NEA released a poll last year, following the deadly Newtown shootings, which showed educators nationwide overwhelming reject the idea of arming school employees and support stronger laws to prevent gun violence.

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Reader Comments

  1. I found it encouraging to see so many rational comments concerning the safety of our children. The same old “Anti Gun” , “Anti Trump” ideology is getting quite annoying.Perhaps the NEA should organize a study comparing our test scores as compared to dollars spent with other industrialized nations. Certainly fair and adequate pay for teachers and the safety of our children are extremely important and can not be over emphasized, however the NEA seems to be so obsessed with political ideology, they are forgetting our primary objective of providing unbiased, quality, safe education for all our students.

  2. We cant continue to leave our schools vulnerable. I don’t believe this needs to result in arming teachers, but the presence of armed former military or police, trained professionals like we have in banks would provide the timely response needed. Is the safety of our children less important than protecting our hmoney? We cannot continue to feel there is no threat at our schools. Nor can we allow the response time to be too little too late. Attackers pass a theater with a guard, and go on to one without. They know they have time to do real damage at a school before a probable response. Create a safety net at our schools. Give us trained campus police, armed trained support.

  3. My thanks to everyone who has responded. Having trained, armed school employees in the school is a critical issue that needs to be examined closely. There are positive and negative arguments on both side of the issue. My suggestion is that we continue to honestly share our concerns for the next month, and then have the NEA staff create a multi-dimensional poll whereby we ask questions such as:
    What level of training would be required before a school employee would be authorized to be armed?
    How does a school administration assure that larger institutions are adequately protected? When does having an armmed employee need to be at differnt locations make sense based on data from histopric shootings?
    What activities would armed school employees be appropriate? (i.e sports events, PTA Mtgs, regular classes, club, etc?)
    How can we as educators and public employees reduce the potential for violent behavior both at schools and in our culture in genral?
    Numerous other questions need to be addressesed as this is a tough topic which we need to address sincerely and earnestly.

  4. I think that NEA would benefit from a poll of its members about this topic instead of a one sided petition about this issue. I’m sure that many members who live in the real world with their eyes wide open see the folly of creating and maintaining more “criminals only” gun zones. Just keep in mind that criminals and mentally impaired people don’t care if something is illegal!

  5. I am an educator who also disagrees with NEA’s stance. I believe that proper training would be a necessity, but armed educators could potentially stop a horrific event before it becomes a mass murder. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me.

  6. I am an educator at a state juvenile correctional facility, most of my students have admitted to me that they have either carried a weapon to school or are friends with someone who has. I am an avid shooter and I have many years of public safety experience. I am not boasting that I could in anyway take the place of a highly qualified law enforcement officer, I am saying that teachers with additional training would be a valuable asset. Not all teachers should carry a weapon, but I also know law enforcement officers I would not let carry a weapon. Proper training is the key.

  7. I also disagree with the tone of this article. More than anything else, the implicit premise that’s being pushed here–that is, linking law-abiding citizens that carry firearms to gun violence/mass murder–is patently absurd.

    If this idea is ever implemented, though, I do think teachers that carry should be required to attend extensive trainings–and perhaps qualify with their firearms–so they know what to do if ever involved in an active shooter incident.

    As many others have commented, response time is the critical factor here. As they say, “call for an ambulance, call for a cop, and call for a pizza… and see which one comes first.”

  8. I am a member of the NEA and the Iowa State Education Association. I disgree with the NEA’s stance on this issue. I believe that some faculty and staff members should be trained and carry concealed weapons. Once a shooting starts, it takes too long for any law enforcement personel to arrive on the scene. (Our police chief estimated 15-20 minutes for our community college.) An armed faculty member could save many students in that situation. An unarmed faculty member could become another victim. I hope Nebraska passes this law and other states do the same. Shooters look for vulnerable targets. What is more vulnerable than an unarmed school?

  9. I am also a member of the NEA and live in rural Minnesota where the first responder might be 15 minutes or more away. There are no local police on duty during school hours so we must rely of county deputies to respond. I am a veteran and a weapon enthusiast. I am considered an expert marksman and compete is competitions where participants react to situations with a concealed weapon. Currently in my state teachers can not carry a weapon unless approved by the superintendent, who is normally opposed to guns. As such, many teachers keep their concealed weapons in their cars in the parking lot. It does not make sense to prohibit expert marksman who have more training and profecency the most law enforment officers from carrying weapons. It could eliminate the treat to children’s lives 15 minutes sooner then relying on the police.

    I will say that if a teacher decides to carry they need to do it in a holster with a restraint system or lock box in their classrooms. Also, there should be strict penalties for ever letting students see that there is a weapon in the vicinity. This law makes sense because it is for rural areas. I don’t think is makes as much sense is a school that has police responders in the area at all times.

  10. I am a member of the NEA and some other affiliated groups. However, I disagree with the NEA’s stance on this issue. I support the idea that faculty and staff of educational institutions should have the right to carry concealed firearms. I hope this law passes in Nebraska and that many other states follow suit.

    1. I disagree completely. Police had a difficult enough time on campuses without having to deal with faculty and staff who may not be competent in handling a gun and certainly may not be psychologically trustworthy to have a gun. Remember the faculty member in Alabama who shot several colleagues? What do you want: a gun battle in the faculty lounge? There is tension enough without literally making issues of interpersonal conflict and tenure decided when a gun is present.

      Secondly, good luck bringing international students to a campus where guns are permitted.

      1. @Glenn:

        Amy Bishop had profound psychological problems, a history of violence, and multiple complaints of odd and erratic behavior from both colleagues and students. Obviously, the issue here was this individual having access to firearms, and the warning signs being ignored. We’ve seen this before in other cases.

        To imply that this shooting was a result normal “interpersonal conflict” seems ill-informed, as is your automatic assumption that faculty and staff wouldn’t have sufficient training in the use of firearms or protocol in an active shooter event.

        Gun battle in the faculty lounge? Try massacre, since that’s really what happened. Maybe it’s time for you to rethink some of your assumptions and educate yourself about some of the circumstances surrounding these events.

        1. I think it is sad that you try to make the example in Alabama, an exception because the NRA would have blocked any attempt to keep that lady from obtaining a gun. (Remember the refusal to support background checks at gun shows?). Your claim that she was ill would have made no difference. I suppose you think that if the other faculty have had guns, they would have shot it out? Shooters don’t say “draw” like on the old cowboy shows. The idea of putting a professional in the school to protect it is fine, but turning teachers or college faculty into part-time cops is ridiculous. Honestly how do you know who is stable enough to carry a gun. You don’t know their domestic situation. Losing one’s temper and resorting to violence is not something any of you can anticipate. Even if a test to determine stress levels and emotional stability existed, the gun lobby would oppose it as a violation of one’s rights.

          Perhaps you would like to hand out guns at the beginning of the school year. You seem to think we can scatter a few around with some training and that should avoid problems. Your answer that more guns is the solution is the falsehood. By the way, which teachers get to have guns and which don’t? I suspect that white males will be heavily favored. Oh, and I would love to see the insurance costs to schools who have to get liability insurance in case a teacher accidentally shoots himself or another teacher of faculty.

          Human beings are generally undependable, emotional, and can be damn ornery. If a teacher loses it and shoots another teacher, your solution would be to arm more or maybe all the teachers. More guns beget more guns. Shooting another human being is a traumatic thing for a non-professional and it is very tough for an officer to do. So what if the gun is taken by an irate student either by stealing it or overcoming a teacher with the gun?

          You all have such easy solutions but you don’t think about the emotional and real financial costs of expanding the gun culture into a place where children should be safe and nurtured. Put a well paid professional guard at the entrance of the school and pay well for it. Make the school impregnable with walls and utter security. I am ok with that, but don’t do it cheaply and save your tax dollars. Do it right.

          I realize this won’t change many minds but you can always quit the NNEA and join the NRA.

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