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Concealed carry unlikely at LHS

USD 497 hasn't used state law allowing teachers to carry guns.

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Concealed carry unlikely at LHS

By Connor Schmaus, Editor

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Concerns over the safety of students and teachers have surged to the forefront of national debates in wake of the most recent school shooting.

The deaths of 17 teenagers on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida prompted politicians and advocates to suggest arming school staffs as a solution, spurring opposition from teachers and educator groups.

After the shootings, President Donald Trump spoke in support of allowing school staff to carry firearms, a proposal originally created in 2013 following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“Well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches should carry firearms in schools,” Trump said in an address at the Conservative Political Action Congress. “This would be a major deterrent, because these people are inherently cowards.”

Trump’s stance on moving forward has caused outcry from teacher organizations across the nation. Jeff Plinsky, Lawrence High debate teacher and vice president of the LEA, said the proposed solution would only create a disturbed classroom, where the teacher is no longer a trusted individual.

“We’ve worked really hard to develop the idea of teacher as a facilitator, the teacher as a collaborator,” Plinsky said. “But when that teacher has a gun in the class, they are now [an] authority figure.”

Similar to Plinsky, Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association sees weapons as unnecessary and a poor solution to the issue.

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence,” Garcia said in a statement for NPR. “Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms.”

After Sandy Hook, Kansas legislators passed a bill allowing teachers permit to carry concealed weapons if school districts approved the idea. USD 497 hasn’t approved such a policy.

It seemed unlikely other districts would pursue concealed carry because  EMC insurance company, which covers most Kansas districts, refused at the time to ensure schools that participated in the concealed carry option.

Administrators are confident the option is unlikely to take effect in Lawrence, partially because of local politics.

“Even if some districts in Kansas adopt a concealed carry rule, I don’t think Lawrence will,” assistant principal Mike Norris said. “It’s more liberal here than it is in the rest of the state… I think there’s more teachers that would just refuse to carry.”

Norris also fears unintended consequences from a large school having weapons among teachers.

“I can just imagine a crazy scenario where some math teacher with a gun… and some social studies teacher with a gun run into each other,” Norris said. “We honestly have teachers in this building that don’t know each other.”

With no clear solution, teachers maintain that the most important thing to do is to provide a safe place for students, including one where their fears are recognized and addressed.

“You have to recognize that fear is a real thing,” Plinsky said. “Have an open and honest discussion where students can not only ask questions, but have their fears heard.”

About the Writer
Connor Schmaus, Newspaper Co-Editor-in-Chief

Hello! My name is Connor and I'm a senior this year. Other than journalism, I'm involved in the Marching Lions, Scholar's Bowl, and a bunch of clubs. Outside...

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Concealed carry unlikely at LHS