Weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill barring concealed weapons on K-12 school grounds, one district in Northern California is reaffirming its policy to allow the practice, and the local police chief agrees.
The Anderson Union High School District will continue to allow licensed employees to carry concealed weapons on school campuses, with officials saying it will keep students and faculty safe.
“It is definitely a pro to have people armed, responsible people armed who have been vetted and can actually provide another layer of protection for the kids,” Anderson Police Chief Mike Johnson told KRCR-TV.
Anderson is located in the northern California county of Shasta, about 200 miles north of San Francisco.
The old law allowed school employees to carry if they had written permission from the district or a concealed carry permit, but the new law, Senate Bill 707, only allows exceptions for peace officers, both retired and active. The bill essentially creates a state-mandated local program, the description of the new law said.
School Superintendant Tim Azevedo could not be reached to clarify whether the district believes it is defying the new state law by keeping the status quo.
However, Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the district is within its rights.
“The intent of the new law is obviously to discourage teachers from having firearms to protect themselves and their students," Gottlieb said. "But the law allows the school districts locally to make these decisions on their own. And maybe this new law will help convince school districts that they actually should make this decision on their own.”
Gottlieb said he thinks this school district policy is “fantastic” and hope that other districts in California and school districts throughout the nation follow suit, to help put an end to victim disarmament zones.
“But to make it really work, the policy needs to be publicized, so that bad actors know they are more at risk by trying to hurt our children at these facilities,” Gottlieb said.
Evidence shows concealed carry policies protect campuses from would-be attackers, said John Lott, founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
“Even just a few people or even a couple who might be armed at a school can make a big difference in terms of whether or not terrorist types attack there,” Lott said. “It is amazing how these killers talk explicitly about picking targets where they know victims cannot go and defend themselves. … where people are not armed and not able to stop them.”
Groups like the Brady Campaign have opposed firearms on campuses across the nation, saying they create additional safety issues.