July 12, 2014

Local schools should have the final say on guns on their campuses

So far, local school officials haven’t shown much interest in taking advantage of a new state law that would allow some teachers and staff to carry firearms on campus.

“We discussed this briefly, when it was introduced by legislators in Atlanta, and have no plans to change existing policies that prohibit weapons in our schools,” said Judy Gilreath, superintendent for Whitfield County Schools.

The Safe Carry Protection Act, which went into effect July 1, grants school districts the authority to allow specific personnel to carry guns — with a carrying license and properly administered training — within schools, at school functions, or on buses.

Those who backed it say arming teachers and staff could prevent or at least reduce the chances of incidents like the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Those who opposed the law said it would create new dangers.

Local school leaders say they are confident that the school resource officers on many campuses can best handle any problems.

The law itself was a good idea.

Local school leaders are in the best position to determine how to keep their classrooms safe, not distant officials in Atlanta.

But do local schools need armed teachers?

Right now, the answer for all of our local school systems is no.

And we see no reason to question their judgment.

If local schools are dangerous, there are plenty of other steps officials should take first, from installing metal detectors to adding school resource officers, before they consider arming teachers.

Allowing armed teachers is an option all school officials should consider.

But it isn’t the only option for protecting students, and it may not always be the best option.

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