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UPDATE: Bill would let school employees carry guns on campus

Adds comment from Assemblyman Scott Wilk

Posted: January 31, 2013 5:26 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2013 8:43 a.m.

Cori Sorensen, a fourth grade teacher from Highland Elementary School in Highland, Utah, receives firearm training during concealed weapons training for 200 Utah teachers on Dec. 27, 2012, in West Valley City, Utah. (AP)

Seven California Republicans, including one local representative, have signed on to sponsor a bill that would allow school employees to be designated “school marshals,” giving them the ability to carry firearms on school grounds.

The bill would allow districts to use funds to train staff members who volunteer to be armed — provided they pass a state background check.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, introduced Assembly Bill 202 Wednesday with the goal of providing another level of protection to teachers and students.

State Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, is one of the bill’s sponsors. Knight said Thursday he thinks the bill would give school districts another “tool in the toolbox” to ensure the safety of students and employees.

Knight said he is sponsoring the bill because he is a gun-rights advocate, not necessarily in reaction to recent school shootings across the country.

“The bad guys are using guns for criminal activities and the law-abiding citizens should be able to react and do so responsibly,” Knight said.

Though the bill would permit districts to specifically designate those who are able to carry weapons, some officials are already allowed to carry firearms on school property under specific circumstances.

One of the provisions of California’s 1995 Gun-Free School Zone act is that school officials can carry a firearm on school grounds if they have written permission from their school districts. Those wishing to carry a firearm would also need to be properly permitted and licensed to do so.

Knight said AB 202 would codify that option and give school districts more backing should they choose to allow firearms to be carried on school grounds.

But Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said he is opposed to the bill as it would "place an unreasonable burden on educators" and would not improve school safety.

"In fact, it may have the opposite affect through gun accidents in the classroom," Wilk said. "There are wiser courses of action to address the problem such as dedicating resources to mental health." 

The bill faces an uphill climb in the state Legislature, since Democrats hold a two-thirds supermajority in both the state Assembly and Senate.

But one local Democrat isn’t necessarily discounting the bill.

“We believe in a higher level of security for our children and we are currently examining solutions,” said Assemblyman Steve Fox, D-Palmdale.

Fox’s office did not comment specifically on whether he supports the bill as introduced.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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