Las Vegas Sun

July 5, 2015

Currently: 91° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Memo from Carson City:

Two Nevada lawmakers say arming school personnel worth considering

Nevada conservatives cherish the Second Amendment, but they hate taxes. So the idea of putting armed security in every U.S. school, proposed by the National Rifle Association in response to the deadly school shooting in Connecticut, has fallen flat among Nevada's Republicans, in part because of the cost.

But another idea — to allow teachers and administrators to carry guns on school campuses — has gotten at least initial endorsement from two Republican legislators.

On Dec. 21, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called in a news conference for "every single school in America (to) immediately deploy a protection program proven to work, and by that I mean armed security."

He called on Congress to allocate the money to pay for it.

But in lieu of that, it would fall to states or school districts, a proposal that Nevada conservatives and Republicans said isn't fiscally feasible.

"The concept of putting that many additional cops on duty, I'm not sure the populace would agree to that amount of tax increase," said Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, a rancher who is sponsoring laws to ease the state's concealed carry permit laws.

The Clark County School District, a spokesman for which said there would be no comment on the NRA's plan, has a police force of 149 officers for 357 schools. But adding enough officers to patrol every school would come after the district reduced teaching positions this year.

"Who's going to pay for it?" said Chuck Muth, a conservative activist. "The state of Nevada can't afford it. The federal government is going over a fiscal cliff. I don't think that's the answer."

But conservatives including Muth pointed to stories from Utah of teachers flocking to free gun training seminars.

That idea brought more enthusiasm, in part because it would cost less.

Freshman Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, has requested a bill that would allow students to carry guns on university and college campuses. A similar bill failed last session.

Fiore said for now, she's focusing only on allowing permitted students to carry firearms on higher education campuses. But she is listening to ideas about how to improve K-12 safety, including whether to allow guns in those schools.

"We have teachers in our school systems who are trained and willing to protect our children with their firearms," Fiore said. "This has the potential to be a very low cost solution to a very serious and growing national problem of school safety."

Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, was more adamant. A co-sponsor of the law that would allow guns on higher education campuses, he said he supports allowing teachers and administrators to carry weapons at schools.

One or two police officers at every school would become targets for a shooter, he said, adding "they can't watch every entrance and exit." Allowing trained teachers and other school employees to carry guns would serve as a warning for would-be shooters. If guns were allowed in schools, a potential gunman would be wary to enter, the senator said.

"There's a good chance someone is carrying a gun on campus, and you don't know who it is," Gustavson said.

Passage of any of these proposals would be extremely difficult. The Senate and Assembly are controlled by Democrats. And while Nevada Democrats are much more gun friendly than their brethren on the East Coast or in California, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has said gun rights in Nevada have gone far enough. He said one of his goals in the 2013 Legislature is to look at ways to control "weapons of mass destruction."

The state teachers union also does not support the idea.

Nick Di Archangel, spokesman for the Nevada State Education Association, said adding guns to school settings would create "an arms race."

"This idea opens so many questions that cannot be answered at all," Di Archangel said. "Teacher and student safety has to be priority No. 1. Keeping guns out of schools — that's what we need to focus on, not putting guns into schools."

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 21 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. These same Tea/Republican politicians have no problem with gutting the teachers' union and removing money from the State education system. But they agree that we should spare no expense to arm teachers and/or put armed guards in every school?

    Oh. Sure. That'll work. Take away books and pencils from the students, but go ahead and give guns and knives to the teachers.


    This article is unrefutable proof that it's important that people get out and vote. The incredible nonsense spewed by our lawmakers is only making matters worse. Get rid of 'em with your votes, people. We ain't got time for this idiocy.

  2. Just like TSA is partially funded by taxing airline ticket so could security in schools be paid for by licensing and regulating purchase and ownership of firearms and ammunition including commensurate taxation.

  3. Arming school administrators and teachers has to include a decision made by the neighborhood community where that (and each) school is located in. This is not an instance where the folks sitting in a District Office can speak on the behalf of the real stakesholders, those who LIVE in the neighborhood and send their school to that neighborhood school. We must support the decision of those who are directly affected.

    Although I am not opposed to school staff carrying a weapon if permitted and deemed necessary, I don't advocate that such a practice is automatically done without a thorough conversation with the school's neighborhood families and having their approval and support of it.

    Certainly, a gun would have to be stored in a secure location, possibly using biometrics in the locking system. The enactment of Homeland Security has given Americans a keen sense of surrendering part of our comfort in Constitutional Rights towards insuring security and safety for the many. Each of us has our own take on what that has meant in our everyday lives since Homeland Security's inception.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. TSA--good example of wasting money without increasing security. We already have airline ticket agents--with minimal training they could activate alarm buttons when a passenger looks suspicious. You think TSA agents are weeding out terrorists. It was an agent who said the 911 infiltrators via Canada looked like terrorists but he had no means of notifying anyone. Talk about the tail wagging the dog with numerous agents checking bags. Would it be the end of the world if you couldn't have carry-on luggage? There is no way in the wide world to prevent any and every possible attack or risk. School offices that have staff including secretaries, clerks, administrators could have alarm buttons to the local police force--similar to bank alarms. This would help a great deal at minimal cost.

  5. Are your children any less important to you than president Obamas children or network media personalities whose children attend Sidwell private school with 11 armed guards patrolling the grounds and halls?

  6. Chunky says:

    There should be at least one well-armed and tactically trained police officer or guard in every school to deter, stop or slow the crazies that are going to acquire and use guns or other mass casualty weapons regardless of the gun laws.

    If a school teacher or administrator would like to be armed with a concealed weapon they should be able to make that personal decision themselves as long as they pass the background check and have proper training.

    The country spends billions every year screening and protecting the airports and planes, they could surely find a piece of that money out there to protect the children who sit in schools labeled as gun free zones a/k/a sitting duck shooting arcades for the crazies.

    As for "alarm buttons", that's a great idea too but when seconds count the police are only minutes away. 911 calls went out within seconds of the Newtown shooting but it was too late. Anything preventive and protective we can implement in the most timely fashion should be tried as long as it does not violate the Constitution.

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  7. ChunkyFlyRight says: "There should be at least one well-armed and tactically trained police officer or guard in every school to deter, stop or slow the crazies that are going to acquire and use guns or other mass casualty weapons regardless of the gun laws."

    History clearly refutes this argument. On April 20, 1999 Columbine High School had one armed guard on duty: 13 dead, 24 injured. On April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech had 24 trained, armed guards on the staff:32 dead, 17 injured. In neither case were armed school personnel instrumental in preventing, slowing, or ending the massacre.

    And yes, I am fully aware that the right has only a very limited interest in facts that support its positions and no interest whatsoever in any other facts.

  8. Why not have our national guard protecting our school children? Good training, they are already on the payroll and they live here and have friends and family with school aged children.

  9. Oh, another brilliant idea from the Nutty Right in the Nevada Legislature. THEY don't want to pay for trained, armed law enforcement professionals to carry guns around our kids in public schools but THEY are HAPPY to let amateurs do it for free!

  10. Paul Rupp's Nation Guard idea is good. Weekend Guardsmen normally have jobs and attend 2-week active duty per year. Why not replace or partially replace that with serving time in the schools. There would be some who could do more than that.

  11. Let me get this straight -- Nevada conservatives scream and yell that public schools are failing. Teachers deserve to be fired. We are NOT worth our pay.

    And NOW we need to carry around guns. Really?

    Extreme conservatives are #crazy.

    How about you work on giving what I need to be successful to teach kids to read - paper would be nice?

    How about you give the police what they need - so they can respond professionally?

    I'm not a gunslinger. If I wanted to carry a weapon and search for people to shoot - I would NOT have gone into education.

  12. Fiore is dead wrong that "We have teachers in our school systems who are trained -- to protect our children with their firearms." Any expert that isn't living in fantasy land will tell you the only people "trained" and capable of holding off another person effectively with a gun is someone who has already undergone YEARS of situational stress training (i.e. SWAT police).
    Let's all enjoy a little reality check together-

  13. Jerry, Carmine, Re, Roslenda, and numerous neanderthals routinely accuse we teachers of being Socialist stooges and union thugs indoctrination the precious children with unAmerican ideas. Now you want us armed?

  14. I wonder how many in the national guard are potentially PTSD?

  15. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  16. The real problem is about being PROactive. Revisiting lock down procedures, especially when there is an intruder who is irrational armed to the teeth, has to happen. Also examining vulnerable perimeter areas, and making adjustments where necessary. Devises as alarm buttons in multiple building areas would also be of some use.

    Precious little can be done when an individual has an uzzy that sprays hundreds of bullets in one minute. That is the elephant in the room that means limiting access or stricter guns laws, which every American seems to have a position on.

    As a rule, teachers are not usually trained for such serious confrontations. It is real doubtful any would really want the job, but when you are in an emergency situation, it is helpful to know what to do to increase the chances of living and getting out of the situation. So hopefully, more training of this nature will soon follow so teachers feel more prepared, and perhaps, less anxious.

    Guess its time to talk about gun laws.
    Blessings and Peace,

  17. "Irving Pinsky, attorney is asking to sue the State of Connecticut for $100 million on behalf of a Newtowne school survivor". - national news.

    After the schools are broke, teachers refuse to instruct and the gun dealers are rich, the only system that will continue to work is the Tort system of malpractice.

    The client "sustained "emotional and psychological trauma and injury" after listening to the tragedy over the loudspeakers in the classroom. This means the loudspeakers in classrooms also failed because they induced emotional trauma rather than dependable instructions on how to remain safe.

    Academic instructors cannot be allowed to carry guns because that makes them responsible for successful protection of students. Should they fail, lawsuits for malpractice against the school district, State and teachers would be filed. No law can be passed that makes gun equipped teachers immune to malpractice.

    Once the shooter is in the classroom, it is too late. If a shooter came in the back door of a classroom and fired, students would jump to their feet and block the view of the shooter. If the instructor tried to shoot with a quick, clear view and instead, hit a student the parents would sue. If the instructor hit nothing - they or the school system could be sued for many claims, including emotional trauma.

    Guards would have to be stationed along each straight section in the halls to prevent entry. The taxpayer would be forced to pay the bills to create an environment of paranoia with the sole objective of proliferating guns. The academic environment would be ruined but the gun dealers would make millions. That turns Mainstreet USA into Afghanistan USA, but gun dealers, military equipment and bullet proof backpack suppliers rich.

    The answer is very simple: make those responsible for public shootings pay. They are without a doubt, those who build and sell assault rifles for the public. Make them pay until it becomes unprofitable or financially impossible to build these pieces of deadly trash.

    Toy makers are routine sued for causing injury to children. Gun makers, dealers and sellers should experience the same fate: pay for the damage they do. In that manner, they could also keep their warped sense of Constitutional guarantees.

  18. If the laws are eased to allow more concealed weapons on campus, it follows that ALL CASINOs must obey the same rules. Casinos offer a much more dangerous environment and more personal protection is needed.

    More Guns in Casinos! And this will be advertised all over America - "Feel safe when you gamble in Nevada, there is a Good Guy next to you with a concealed weapon throwing the dice".

  19. I wonder if the numbers exist for this anywhere: what is the percentage of people being prescribed some type of medicine that carries a warning about side-effects that includes suicidal thoughts today versus the percentage of people on such medication 40 years ago?

    I will speculate that there is a greatly higher percentage today thanks to all the ads we see every day. Even the latest and greatest "stop smoking" prescription carries a warning about this!

    If my hunch is right, then as much as I don't like it, I would have to advocate including medical history in background checks, and anyone who has filled a prescription for an anti-depressant or similar acting medication within X amount of time, say 2 years (or maybe longer) should not be allowed to own a weapon, OF ANY KIND.

    I'll go further and say that if any member of a person's household is taking such medication, or has a relatively recent history of such, then stringent security measures must be followed or a gun permit should be denied.

  20. The teachers union will love the idea of having all of their members carry self defense weapons, they will all expect an increase in salary for hazard pay,gun purchases,monthly target practice sessions,travel time to the range,etc. and of course the unions will have to charge more in dues if the teachers get more.
    Most teachers are interested in the money and they will only want to carry for that reason, They most probably would not engage an active shooter in a life time of teaching.
    Hire professionals to protect the kids as the teachers are having a bad enough time educating them.

  21. I think it should be clear: I don't think anyone is suggesting "Arming Teachers". I think what is being suggested is to stop "DISarming Teachers". I personally know several teachers and administrators that WOULD carry if they were not DENIED THE RIGHT. Including myself.

    I have children in CCSD, and I would welcome the idea of the administration and staff of my children's school having the choice to carry.

    And before anyone gets all wound up over the thought of teachers shooting it out with criminals, you missed the point. It's not about shooting it out with the criminals, it's about deterring them in the first place.

    If you don't believe me, I have two words for you: Air Marshal.

    Gun Free Zones don't keep anyone safe, that much is quite clear. Instead, they serve as Victim Disarmament Zones. Fish in a barrel.