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On Feb. 6, Senate Bill 17-005, a bill that would allow a county sheriff to provide training to educators seeking to carry a concealed weapon in school, led by state Sen. Chris Holbert, of Parker, and state Rep. Patrick Neville, of Castle Rock, was approved in the Senate. As a school psychologist in a Douglas County school, and more importantly, the parent of Douglas County students, I have grave concerns as this bill moves forward.
Having worked over 20 years in public schools in both suburban schools and inner-city schools, including Richmond, Virginia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, I have never felt the need or desire to carry a firearm on school property, and I might add that I have handled over a dozen types of firearms.
First, it is foolish to think that one can have easy access to a firearm to defend, and at the same time, guard against students also having access to the firearm. Studies show that children are drawn to weapons and many will quickly figure out where firearms are located. Secondly, I have great doubts that all adults who carry handguns have the executive functioning skills required to discern level of threat and counter impulsive response when faced with a spectrum of stressful situations.
Our role as educators, principals, psychologists, social workers, etc. is not to be public defenders. Our role is, among other things, to create a climate of calm and thoughtful problem-solving. We try to teach students to work through problems through verbal exchange, not physical acts of violence. By carrying weapons on school grounds, not only do we create a stifling climate of hostility and a greater potential for accidental and purposeful gun shootings, we send a clear message that schools are no longer a safe place to thrive and learn.
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