Bill would clear armed personnel at private schools

Mar. 17, 2013 @ 09:13 PM

A bill introduced recently by an area state legislator would clear the way for private schools to have armed staff and volunteers in case of an outbreak of mass violence, including schools that are part of a church or religious property.
Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, last month proposed legislation to allow select employees and volunteers to carry weapons on private school grounds in North Carolina if authorized by a school board of trustees or school administrative director. Senate Bill 146 also would permit employees or volunteers with a concealed carry permit for a firearm to have a weapon on private school property “that is the location of both a school and a place of religious worship,” according to the legislation. 
The bill reflects the flurry of legislative proposals in North Carolina and across the country in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of those proposals, for both public and private secondar schools, involve getting more trained, armed personnel on campuses to confront a gunman meant on mayhem.
Bingham told The High Point Enterprise that he introduced the bill at the request of parochial school representatives. If enacted by the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly, Bingham said Senate Bill 146 could become a national model for rules about armed staff and volunteers at private schools. Bingham also consulted with law enforcement officers in crafting the legislation, which includes training requirements for private school staff and volunteers before they could carry weapons on campus.
“These folks would train together, work together — they know the school and what to do,” he said.
The head of the state’s private school association said her group has reservations about Senate Bill 146 but “will remain neutral with respect to lobbying efforts.”
“In the midst of increasing school violence, we all are giving thoughtful consideration as how to best keep our students safe,” said Linda Nelson, executive director of the N.C. Association of Independent Schools. “We believe that this is a very
complex question and that, Senate Bill 146, while well-intentioned, opens the door to a variety of unintended consequences.”
In the legislation, Bingham specifies the type of training private school staff and volunteers would need before receiving clearance to carry a weapon on school grounds.
In addition to earning a concealed carry permit, a person would have to complete, under the direct supervision of a certified instructor, a specific course on gun safety and the appropriate use of firearms. The training requirement would be annual, according to the legislation.
Bingham’s proposal also would place requirements on private schools.
The private school would adopt and maintain “written standard operating procedures regarding the possession and carrying of the weapons” and distribute to the parents of students attending the private school copies of the written procedures on an annual basis, according to the bill.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528