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Gun laws trigger 2 states' debates

Some oppose new law allowing loaded guns near school grounds

BY HOLLY PRESTIDGE

If you think guns don't have any place on or near school property, don't move to Utah.

A change in Virginia's law allows people with a concealed-weapons permit to carry loaded firearms when picking up students from school - as long as the guns are concealed and are kept inside vehicles.

But Utah's latest gun law goes further. It allows teachers, principals and anyone else with a concealed-weapons permit to carry weapons on school grounds. The guns can be loaded and are not restricted to vehicles.

Proponents of the Utah legislation said schools would be safer if people could arm themselves, said Carol Lear, coordinator for school law and legislation for the Utah Board of Education.

When the law was initially written, it required a principal to approve individuals with the concealed permits before they could enter school grounds with loaded firearms, Lear said by phone last week.

For those opposed to guns in schools, the requirement for permission "was a very adequate deterrent, we thought," Lear said.

But that provision was removed before the law passed. Now anyone with a permit may bring a loaded firearm on school property. The law also allows permit holders to have loaded firearms in plain view in their vehicles.

"It's just bizarre," Lear said, that things students get expelled for "are OK for an adult."

Although Virginia's law is more restrictive than the Utah legislation, some Richmond-area teachers say Virginia lawmakers should not have made it easier to carry a loaded gun on school property.

Shonda Harris-Muhammed, a teacher at Richmond's Armstrong High School, said there is no way parents or anyone else should bring guns near a school.

Harris-Muhammed said she was livid upon hearing that Virginia's new law meant gun owners were no longer required to unload their guns before entering school property.

"A loaded gun is very different from an unloaded gun," she said. "Anything can happen."

She said she didn't think Virginia lawmakers thought this new law through. She said it opens the door for kids to say they don't feel safe in school and justify bringing in weapons because they see adults doing the same.

Mark Dozier, a teacher at Henrico County's Douglas Freeman High School, also opposes guns on school property.

"We should do as much as we can to keep loaded guns away from our schools," Dozier said. "Someone who lost their temper can put students and teachers in harm's way."

Jackie Kelley, a sixth-grade English and reading teacher at Henrico's Pocahontas Middle School, has a different perspective.

Kelley moved to Virginia from New Hampshire two years ago. While teaching there, Kelley said, she knew many parents who were hunters and kept firearms in their vehicles.

"I never felt threatened," she said, "and I never felt unsafe in my parking lot."

Kelley said she felt that those who had gun licenses knew how to handle firearms around children. She knew students who hunted with their parents.

Utah state Sen. Michael G. Waddoups, a Republican and the sponsor of that state's gun law, noted that a course on safety is a requirement for a concealed-weapons permit. Waddoups added that the people who take the course "are serious about it and are doing it for the right reasons."

He said he has heard of no incidents in which someone used a firearm inappropriately on school grounds as a result of the law. He said he talked to teachers who came to school armed since the law changed. The change is such a nonissue that the principals aren't even aware that their teachers are armed, Waddoups said.

Lear, who deals with law and legislation for the Utah Board of Education, said it is understood that school employees must keep their firearms concealed. She emphasized "must," and said employees are told that consequences for failure to conceal a weapon could be severe.

"If you ever show that gun," she said, "you may be putting your employment at risk."

She noted that although opinion polls in her state showed 70 percent of the population opposed guns in school, the law passed anyway.

Virginia's gun law passed in the House, 85-9, and in the Senate, 28-11, before being signed into law earlier this year.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=Common/MGArticle/PrintVersion&c=MGArticle&cid=1031783651056&image=timesdispatch80x60.gif&oasDN=timesdispatch.com&oasPN=!news!education

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People like Harris-Muhammed and Dozier have already soiled their shorts over this issue and continue to sit in it without realizing how foolish and wrong they both are. But hey, they are the first ones who would scream if something happened. Notice, I did not say 'scream for help' - they can't think that far ahead. These people scream because they are uninformed, ignorant, unwilling to learn and frightened as a result as a result of their ignorance. These people should not be teaching our children. They are not good examples of people who can think objectively or follow a rational train of thought. We do not need these people teaching our children anything at all, except to use them as bad examples or examples of what not to be, think or do.

The only reason I can think of as a basis for supposedly rational people to be so blindsided, ignorant and unwilling to view both sides of an argument is that they are short more than just a few brain cells or genetically at the bottom of the gene pool.

I guess we need these people like we need anti-gun politicians - NOT. Mikey.
 
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