superintendent, East Porter County School Corp.
To the editor:
Dear Sen. (Jim) Tomes:
I have been following Senate Bill 229 and have a number of questions for you. First, why is it necessary to allow people to bring guns on school property? For years we have worked to improve the safety and security of our students and staff. I do not understand how allowing people to have guns on school property is useful in any manner.
What instances have occurred around the state making it necessary to allow firearms on school property? It has been stated in news reports that the change is necessary so parents who are dropping their children off at school and inadvertently have a firearm in the car are not charged with a felony.
In 20 years of being a school administrator I have never had a situation where a parent inadvertently had a gun in his or her vehicle. In trying to keep students and staff safe, it would seem to make more sense to keep guns farther away from schools, not bring them closer to potential targets.
In the proposed legislation, a person may possess a firearm on school property if the firearm is kept in the trunk of the person’s motor vehicle, in the glove compartment of the person’s locked motor vehicle or stored out of plain sight in the person’s locked motor vehicle. The ability to possess a firearm on school property does not extend to high school students.
We have seen or heard of individuals who have become upset during school events. In the past three years, I have had to issue a criminal trespass warning to at least four parents who displayed dangerous behavior while on school property. Imagine the tragedies we will see if people are able to possess a gun in their car on school property. There will be little to stop a person from going to a vehicle to retrieve a gun to use to settle an argument.
Why were schools carved out in the legislation from the list of properties where possession of a firearm could be prohibited by the employer? The pending legislation lists 15 employment-related properties where firearms are not permitted, including postsecondary educational institutions (colleges and universities). If it is not permissible to possess a firearm at a postsecondary institution why would it be permissible to possess one at an elementary, middle or high school?
I support the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I also believe in the Declaration of Independence which sets out the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Allowing firearms on school property will certainly fulfill the Second Amendment, but at the same time it will jeopardize life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I urge you to reconsider the proposed legislation, unless you can legitimately explain why the change in the law is beneficial to children.