President George H.W. Bush signed The Gun Free School Zones Act in 1990. Under its [revised] provisions, Americans cannot exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms within 1000 feet of a designated school zone. That’s unless the state or an individual school within a state allows it. And the gun carrier possesses a firearms carry license from the same state. sfgate.com reveals that the 33-school Folsom Cordova Unified School District (east of Sacramento) has armed its teachers. Well, some of them . . .
After rumors circulated about the presence of guns inside Folsom Cordova schools, School Superintendent Deborah Bettencourt [above] responded to parents’ and press inquiries. In a statement posted on the district’s website, Ms. Bettencourt admitted that there have been guns on campus for the last six years. She offered the following explanation for the policy:
For the last several years, I have worked collaboratively with local law enforcement and our Board of Education to allow trained, select employees with valid concealed weapons permits (CCWs) to safely store and access a firearm in the case of an emergency in some of our sites and facilities.
We are all too aware of mass shootings in school communities and the dangers posed by criminals who want to do harm. The safety of our students, staff, and families, is our number one priority, and our narrow practice of allowing select, law-abiding employees to securely store and access a firearm in the event of an emergency is a legal and appropriate safety measure given the unfortunate reality of violence in our society today. Still, let me assure you that there are no teachers authorized to carry guns on our school campuses.
This practice is part of the District’s ongoing emergency preparation and coordinated in consultation with our local police chiefs, county sheriff, and law enforcement administration; our Board of Education; and executive cabinet members.
Although state law has changed to restrict concealed weapon permit-holders from school campuses, the law still allows superintendents to authorize specific individuals. Not all Folsom Cordova schools have an individual who has been approved. I work regularly with law enforcement and staff to ensure safe and secure storage of firearms at all times, and no individual is permitted to carry a firearm on his or her person on campus during school hours.
Sensibly enough, Bettencourt has refused to divulge the number of location of the firearms involved. From the Q&A page:
We understand that this is an emotional and personal issue for many, and we recognize that the community will have many questions about this practice. While we understand the value of transparency in building and maintaining trust, we cannot disclose details that would make any individuals or District sites a target.
One surprise: the district has only authorized handgun storage. As any police officer trained for active shooter response will tell you, a handgun is vastly inferior to a rifle for armed defense, in terms of accuracy and capacity.
Now that the “hidden guns” policy has been revealed, it’s facing both opposition and support from employees, parents and community members. Whether or not it will be changed remains to be seen. But there’s one thing that won’t change: “The superintendent will not allow anyone – employees, parents, community members – to carry concealed weapons on his or her person during school hours.”