A state Assembly member introduced legislation on Wednesday that would allow K-12 teachers to carry concealed weapons in an effort to improve security in schools.
Assembly Bill 202, proposed by Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, would permit school districts to offer firearms training for teachers and administrators and allow qualified school employees to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.
“If AB 202 goes into place, we would have an additional invisible line of defense for our children,” said Assemblymember Brian Jones, R-Santee, co-author of the bill. “This is something that we can put in place and would actually work and keep our kids safe.”
The proposal follows calls from Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president and CEO, to post armed guards in every American school.
“If it’s crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” he said in an NBC interview on Dec. 23.
Participation in Donnelly’s program would be entirely voluntary. No teacher would obligated to carry a weapon, and all participating teachers would remain anonymous, according to Jones.
“Our banks have armed guards, our jewelry stores have armed guards and armored vehicles have armed guards because we value the things inside of those buildings,” Jones said. “Do we value our children, and are they worth protecting and keeping safe?”
But Berkeley Unified School District administrators have taken issue with the proposal, claiming it would do little to provide security for students.
“In the words of the state majority leader, ‘the proposal is ludicrous,’” said Mark Coplan, spokesperson for the Berkeley Unified School District. “This is a proposal from a very small minority of the Republican portion of the state government — it’s safe to say that there’s no question that this bill will die.”
Tracy Hollander, a district parent, said she shared Coplan’s concerns.
“I do not think that it’s a solution at all — it would make things a lot more dangerous,” she said. “Even entertaining the thought at all that any of our teachers should be carrying guns is the wrong way to go.”
The legislation will likely face staunch opposition from Democrats in Sacramento.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, criticized the legislation for failing to recognize a broader gun problem the nation faces. Bonta said he was more in favor of legislation that seeks to limit the prevalence of guns, such as a tax on ammunition.
“Gun violence is not restricted to any geographic location or area like a school — we’re seeing it everywhere, including schools but also in movie theaters, on the streets and in our homes,” Bonta said. “We shouldn’t hoist on (teachers) the requirements to have shootouts in the schools.”
Andy Nguyen is the lead crime reporter. Contact him at [email protected].