I may surprise a few people this week, but after closely studying House Bill No. 1195, I am inclined to support it. The bill give school districts the authority to designate an individual to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds, but only after undergoing background checks, additional training on both firearms and violence prevention, and psychological evaluations.
Before I start to explain why, I must use this space to call out the bills primary sponsor, Rep. Dwight Kiefert (R-Valley City), for his inexcusable comments on the issue. In case you missed it, during the debate of the bill on the house floor, Kiefert accused North Dakota School Board Association President Jon Martinson, who opposed the bill, “of wanting to sit comfortably at the funeral [of children] and blame the legislature for not giving them the right to choose.”
Mr. Martinson, and the school boards he represents, deserves to have a voice at the table and their dissenting opinions should be listened to and respected. We should be able to have a debate over gun violence, in public, without being accused of wanting to sit at funerals of dead children and looking to assign blame. Keifert was way over the line, and he should publically apologize to Martinson for his comments.
Now that being said, the reality is this bill provides for a common since alternative to help deter school violence. There are some people on the right who believe the only way to stop violence is with guns, guns and more guns. They believe that any law that limits anybody from bringing a gun anywhere is an affront to a constitutional right.
I am not with them. I think most reasonable people believe that some places should be gun free zones. However, even gun free zones are often guarded by peace officers or security guards, who are allowed to carry weapons for security purposes. These peace officers have had special training and their gun usage is often highly regulated.
Many of my friends on the left, on the other hand, feel the only way to keep schools safe is to put armed police officers in schools. Now I do feel that school resource officers can have a roll in schools, especially in ways that they assist with community policing. However, I do not like the ideal of schools being mandated to have police officers. I don’t think it i the best use of law enforcement or education spending. The good news is, school shootings are very rare, and spending millions to prevent them is not logical.
I really see House Bill No. 1195 as a compromise between the two options. In many ways, it takes a designated school official and makes him/her a well trained and screened security officer. That person would hold another job in the school. To tell the truth, I like the fact that the law seems to encourage the secrecy of the designated school official. I think the fact the designee is confidential would help to limit the deadly force being threatened or used inappropriately. I mean, why blow your cover over a dress code violation?
I don’t think the bill is perfect. I would prefer to see some criminal penalties if the designee uses a firearm incorrectly or fails to protect it. I think it has to be made very clear that the firearm is only to be used to prevent a threat of deadly force. It should not be used to prevent shoplifting or the illegal selling of cigarettes.
However, at the end of the day, the bill is a nice compromise, and I cannot find reason to oppose it.