Though it is late in coming, we welcome CCSD’s policy examination of allowing willing participants to carry handguns on campus and dramatically reduce the risk of mass shootings. We sincerely hope that they will adopt a sensible, well-thought out, practical policy that is as inclusive of as many teachers, staff members, and parents as possible.
We do note a tone of trepidation and fear in the memo. Administrators have nothing to fear from people who willingly seek to protect themselves and others at schools. Concealed carriers are among the most law abiding segment of the population. Firearm accidents by concealed carriers at schools are extraordinarily rare.
A reasonable interpretation of state firearm preemption laws, NRS 202.265 (school firearms ban), and public employer law would conclude that schools have the ability to dictate guidelines to its principals and staff regarding carry on school ground. NRS 386.360, dating from AB 346 of 1989 which created the first school gun ban, required trustees to set rules granting permission to carry firearms on campus. It is unclear if any ever did that, however, this law was repealed and no longer exists. What is clear is that no reasonable interpretation of the law allows conditions to be set upon non-employees carrying on campus, other than permission is required.
The memo raises several concerns. Here are our responses:
Types of weapons: concealable handguns should not be restricted in any manner. Rifles and shotguns would require secure storage and are not practical for all but police officers or dedicated security officers to possess.
Schools have no business dictating what type of handgun, caliber, cartridge, etc. should be allowed other than the firearm can be completely concealed. Some may feel comfortable with just a .22 Magnum revolver, which would be better than nothing.
Background checks: A valid concealed firearm permit and standard hiring background check would be sufficient. Pre-carry background checks cannot identify ill-intent of anyone. For instance, there is no background check that can detect if a teacher is trying to sleep with his or her students.
Training: Any additional training should be tactics and skill based. If legislators (in particular) or local officials want to add on additional training requirements, the curriculum should be uniform and practical. For instance, marksmanship requirements and an action-style shoot. Example:
Grouping of six inches or less at 25 yards
Shoot the head of a hostage-type target at 10 yards (length of a class room)
Fire/don’t fire exercise using simulator or live-action exercise
Such criteria could be the responsibility of the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association, as the CFP and instructor criteria is, or DPS. This way, it is uniform across the state and something that can help reduce the fears that people might have that a poor shooter might hit an innocent student instead of the bad guy. Certainly prior law enforcement experience or being a veteran should not be a requirement to carry.
Open carry vs. concealed carry: Teachers openly carrying is not a good idea. Concealed firearm permittees should be permitted to carry concealed on campus. However, future legislative changes should remove restrictions for any parent or other authorized person on campus from carrying any way they wish. Employer restrictions on teachers, staff, and volunteers should be the only restrictions on mode of carry.
Liability: Individuals should assume the risk if they carry and misuse a firearm on campus. Individuals misdeeds should remain the problem of the individual. Future legislative changes can address liability better. In the short term, the state policy should be looked to as an example.
A few items of note. First, the “teacher” who negligently discharged a firearm is also a reserve police officer, a detail that gets buried in most stories. He should have known better to draw a firearm at all. This man should be fired from both teaching and policing and arrested for unlawful discharge of a firearm and potentially child endangerment. Not every qualification and precaution will ensure safety, but the very small risk is worth the benefit.
Second, the other teacher that went nuts in his classroom could happen anywhere. A teacher committing a violent, criminal act on campus is no different than a teacher that molests a student. The act is the responsibility of the criminal, ensuring the district had no way of knowing of criminal proclivities beforehand. Financial liabilities for accidents and criminal misuse pale in comparison to the priceless cost of human lives.
Guns in the hands of good guys save lives. We cannot afford to continue throwing up arbitrary barriers to allowing willing participants to stop mass murderers. Nevada needs to drastically amend NRS 202.265 to allow parents, teachers, and college students to defend their lives with the most effective means possible.