That is why lawmakers in the Wyoming Legislature voted 54 to 6 on February 13 to advance a bill that would permit individual school districts “to allow teachers and other school workers” with concealed carry permits to bring their guns on campus.
Sponsored by Representative John Eklund (R-Cheyenne), the bill would repeal a law that currently requires public K-12 schools to remain “gun-free zones.” It also requires any school employees who wish to carry a firearm on school property to complete 40 hours of firearm training.
Eklund asserts that allowing school staff to have weapons will deter criminal activity. “I believe that it might be a deterrent for a terrorist or criminal to break into a school or harm our kids. It might be a deterrent to know that there might be guns waiting on the other side of the wall.”
He said that the bill would be particularly useful for school districts in areas with limited local law enforcement. “Presently, there are communities with little enforcement nearby,” Eklund told the Tribune Eagle. “Some of them have response times of an hour or longer. The design of the bill is to fill in the gap.”
The bill has the support of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police and the Wyoming School Boards Association.
According to Lawrence Anderson, who represents the school boards group, says that the bill is a necessary control measure and that districts should have a choice of how they would like to deal with the issue. “We trust all of our education, all of our buildings and everything that goes on to our boards of trustees,” he said. “So I think this is a good step moving forward.”
Rep. Hans Hunt (R-Newcastle) indicated that he voted in favor of the bill for that reason. “I’m a huge proponent of local control, and this couldn’t be done better as far as addressing that issue.”
Not everyone agrees.
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