Riverton Ranger Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Lander schools latest to consider allowing guns on campus


March 3, 2018

LANDER — A recent survey showed most staff members at Fremont County School District 1 in Lander are in favor of allowing employees to carry firearms on school property.

Trustees also solicited feedback on the topic from members of the community. That data is scheduled to be presented at 7 a.m. Friday during a meeting with law enforcement.

Lander Police Department Chief Robert Cecrle said his agency will be in attendance to publicly support a policy allowing firearms on campus - as long as the policy is created “correctly,” including proper training and rules and following state and federal laws.

“It would be one more layer of protection,” Cecrle said.

Wyoming State Statue 21-3-132, which became law last year, allows local trustees to adopt rules and regulations for the possession of firearms by employees with valid concealed-carry permits on property the school district owns.

Lander’s is not the first district in the state to consider the idea, but it is leading the way in Fremont County as the only local district actively discussing the statute.

Fremont County School District 21 Superintendent Terry Ebert said Fort Washakie’s board “is not interested in arming teachers” at this point.

“While that may seem like a quick remedy to school attacks, it is a very complicated solution and can have very intense demands and consequences,” Ebert said.

Fremont County School District 24 superintendent Bruce Thoren said the Shoshoni school district is “watching and learning from other districts’ work through the process.”

“Our students’ security and welfare is our utmost priority, and we will continue to vigilantly weigh the pros and cons of the ability of employees to conceal-carry in schools,” Thoren said.

Representatives from the other five Fremont County school districts said they have not held discussions related to employees carrying firearms.

During a FCSD 1 Board of Trustees meeting last month, three individuals spoke out about the study the district had initiated.

Former teacher Jane Lynn asked whether teachers carrying firearms would receive extra compensation, whether the district’s liability insurance would be affected, why the district was considering the idea, and what kind of weapons and ammunition would be allowed.

“There is a lot to consider,” she said. “It’s a pretty sketchy legislation.”

Chairman Brett Berg said employees likely would carry firearms on a volunteer basis, and business manager Travis Sweeney said insurance rates wouldn’t be affected. Berg added that, before any decisions are made, professionals will be brought in to offer advice.

Mark Haskins, who works part-time in the Lander district, said he does not want to see guns on campus. Instead, he talked about putting bolts on windows, training teachers for emergencies and updating surveillance systems.

“I do not want to work around a teacher who has volunteered to hold a gun,” he said. “Let the professionals do the job.”

If an attacker came to campus with a firearm, he said, and multiple employees had guns, he wondered how law enforcement would know who the suspect was. He also said students might be uncomfortable with teachers carrying guns.

Mother Maggie Miller got emotional while speaking with trustees. She said she was shocked when she received the community survey asking for her feedback on the issue.

“I thought ... ‘I am grateful my student is going to leave (Lander Valley High School) soon,’” she said as she began to cry. “(I’m) so upset about this.”

She noted that the survey did not ask for additional comment from people opposed to firearms on campus.

“I would hope that you will find other ways to contact people - each and every person in this community,” Miller said. “It’s a huge deal.”

She asked whether elementary school teachers would also carry guns and whether employees would wear protective gear.

“The school board really needs to think about this,” she said.

Berg thanked everyone for their input.

“This is what we need,” Berg said. “We need to hear both sides.”


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