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Bedford County Supervisor John Sharp would like to see public school teachers have the right to carry concealed firearms to school, if they should so choose. The goal—making the schools safer while not costing the taxpayers any money.
With that in mind the supervisors, last week, approved a request to ask the General Assembly to give school districts the option of allowing staff to carry their concealed firearms at school. The measure passed on a 6-1 vote; Supervisor Annie Pollard cast the only vote against the request.
This proposal was ill-advised, on a number of levels.
At the top of the list, is the way this request was handled; the supervisors didn’t bother to ask the School Board or school administration how they felt about the issue. Common courtesy should have dictated that, even if the supervisors didn’t really care how the School Board felt.
And, the truth is, they should care.
The School Board and school administration are the ones who hold the ultimate responsibility to watch over this county’s children while they’re at school. Having guns in the classroom would be a huge change and could create all kinds of issues for the school system. Why even ask for the right to do that without knowing if it’s something the school system would want to pursue?
Sharp noted, in his promotion of doing away with the “gun-free zones,” that it could make schools safer without costing the taxpayers money. Financial concerns, of course, are important. But at what cost? And should finances really be the top factor in making such a decision?
Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown has asked the supervisors to provide funding for school resource officers at all Bedford County Public Schools—currently SROs are assigned to the three high schools and middle schools. But the supervisors didn’t want any part of that; and they didn’t want to even allow the county to apply for a grant to receive funding for a few more officers for the elementary schools, because it would have required some county funding down the line.
Is arming the county’s teachers really a valid option in lieu of adding more SROs? Or is it just about saving a few bucks?
If the supervisors believe there is a safety issue, they should sit down with School Board members and school administrators to talk about what the best solutions would be. And the public should have a chance to weigh in on the issue. When tragic events like the Sandy Hook shooting occur, people often look for easy solutions to make sure it doesn’t happen in their community. But the truth is, there aren’t any easy solutions. And most—if not all of—the real solutions will cost money.
This isn’t a solution to go into half-cocked. Pulling the trigger on any measure that hasn’t been fully vetted could only make matters worse. And then the cost could be much more than dollars.