SUSANVILLE, Calif. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) — A committee will be formed to explore teachers who are concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns at Lassen High School. In addition, the committee will also be tasked with helping find money to fund a law enforcement officer on campus.
Both issues were discussed during the Lassen Union High District Board of Trustees’ meeting on December 10. Susanville Police Chief Tom Downing and Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon were in attendance to discuss the issue and answer questions.
Downing expressed concern and opposition in allowing teachers to have guns on campus and encouraged the board to not make a decision that evening, but to further study the issue in an intellectual, not emotional way. “I’m very concerned about that discussion of arming our school staff with firearms. I don’t think it’s prudent to do at this point. I come here today to share with you my concerns as we consider moving forward on what would be the best plan for you and your school to make our children safer.”
Some concerns Downing shared was the level of training required for someone carrying a gun and having to use it in a use of force situation, the liability to the district, accidental discharge, and the possibility of a student trying to take a teacher down.
But Downing said his biggest concern is the possibility of law enforcement officers being dispatched to an incident regarding a man or woman with a gun, and officers finding a person in the hallway pointing a gun at someone and in a split second decides to use lethal force, only to find out later it was a teacher with a firearm who had neutralized the situation.
“The response that it would be in our community and my law enforcement community and your staff, is to me, insurmountable and that’s a concern I have,” Downing said. “I’m very concerned about misidentification issues that could take place in that type of situation.”
The discussion of allowing teachers with concealed weapon permits to carry guns on campus was requested to be put on the agenda by board trustee Dr. Hal Meadows after the school shooting at Sparks Middle School in October. The board meeting also took place just prior to the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Downing pointed out there have been 16 school shootings since then. “Unfortunately, it could be us next, and we need to be prepared and if my child was in that school, when that happened it would be a horrible situation. But even though my children are in school, I am adamantly opposed to teachers having guns on campus,” he said.
School Superintendent Roy Casey also expressed opposition in allowing teachers to have guns on campus. "Honestly, you may find a different superintendent and I’m not saying that in a negative way. I believe I’m an educator first. I believe law enforcement is highly trained and even though there’s a lapse time, I believe that we can figure out other ways to help with that lapse time.”
“I think its worthy of talking about. I think its worthy of us making decisions about school safety, but if you authorize me or someone to carry a gun on campus, then that’s overstepping the bounds of this educator,” Casey added.