Resolution number one proposed by Mercer County School Board would "allow voluntary district employees, in any capacity, the ability to carry a concealed firearm on district property,".
This resolution failed last year, but they came back with added rationales.
"In our district, we could allocate funds to hire a full-time SRO in each of our five buildings, but it would do no good, because there aren’t enough officers or deputies on staff in our community to fill those positions. "
"Another problem, mainly found in rural areas, is the distance school buildings are from local law enforcement teams. " ... "response time" of 10 to 21 minutes.
First let's just ignore the fact that they could fund a position to be filled by a professional and what the local police force would refuse to hire a new person(s) to fill it?
Now I am what most people call a "liberal" or "progressive". While I'd like to be a conservative, seriously who isn't for smaller government, less taxes, and more freedoms, Since I started voting in 1986 most politicians who reflect those values have been Democrats. And yes I even joined my local county Republican committee because I too believed that they were the fiscally sound group. It turns out that even in most local elected positions there are a bunch of Republicans who feel the need to apply strict national litmus tests restricting freedoms and increasing spending (and taxes), or they don't believe you are a real Republican (RINO).
I'm throwing that out there as a caveat so you don't necessarily toss out my position here as just another dumb liberal. Some may and probably will disagree, but that isn't the argument I want to make. I'm just trying to say I am not knee jerk against guns in any and all forms. I've been hunting, I've been to the range, I even took a riflery course in college. (I earned an A). At one time I was a member of the NRA. I have no problem with guns and most definitely am supportive of safe use. Both of my children have gone to gun safety classes and my wife has her FOID card.
With that being said I am against this resolution. While Mercer County seems to have a good reason for wanting staff to have the choice of carrying their rationales do not extend to every school in the state.
I am very concerned that they may have an ulterior motive for presenting the resolution for the second time in two years. Mainly that they want to inject these divisive 2nd amendment politics into local school boards.
If they had simply added a stipulation that schools with an average police response time of just 5 minutes or more I would vote for this resolution. I still don't believe it is the correct step in making schools safer, but I also understand that it might. We don't really know because we don't study these sorts of things.
Yes, I recognize that 5 minutes is a very long time, but I also realize that unless the person with a concealed weapon is right there they are probably going to take 4 or 5 minutes securing their own space before attempting to help, if they even do that. (In Parkland there was a trained and armed policeman who choose not to confront the gunman)
This resolution as it stands forces me and my school board to choose between doing what Mercer County thinks is right for their school district and doing what we think is right for our school district and we are miles apart on circumstances. In my school district police response time is just a couple of minutes at most. We do not feel the need to have an SRO for any reason on campus full time, we haven't even discussed it as far as I recall. We have not ignored the ugly specter of school shootings. We have defensive measures and regularly practice responses as well as consult with local and county police.
Mercer County makes a big deal of pointing out that their resolution leaves the choice up to local school boards. They aren't forcing anyone to vote for concealed carry in their school district. This is true, but it is also forcing us to bring a politically charged question into our schools for no good reason.
Their are two things I am firm in my beliefs about. First, any guns in our local schools would increase danger to our students. Their aren't studies on gun violence that really tell us what is the best thing to do, but one thing that is conclusively true is that more people are harmed or die from their own guns than by stranger's guns.
"Those people that die from accidental shooting were more than three times as likely to have had a firearm in their home as those in the control group."
The second is that people who want to argue about guns do so out of emotion instead of logic. There is little or no good data that shows having a concealed weapon in a school would do anything to prevent or mitigate the danger of school shootings, but there is strong evidence that having more guns in schools would make it more dangerous for students.
The Secret Service did write a report on Enhancing School Safety. Not once did they suggest that staff members carry weapons, even if they were trained to do so. Instead most of the report detailed creating a safe school environment where students felt safe to talk if they felt violent, or if they thought someone else might be a danger and then getting them appropriate help.
I cannot get into the heads of the people in Mercer County who are proposing this resolution, but in my experience most of the time arguments are put forth in an attempt to force change in areas outside of local needs. If Mercer County felt their district really needed this then they would have focused their efforts on making it possible to make changes in their own local school district (such as adding the change I suggested above). They also could have done like Peoria did in resolution 4. They proposed a resolution to fund a school district police force. A resolution that would be controversial in many districts. Yet, their resolution is worded such that is basically only affects Peoria.
I may be wrong, but I have evidence to back up my reasoning. First when this resolution was presented a year ago there was a huge and contentious debate that included protestors and TV cameras. So they knew they were going to face resistance this year. They even made a big deal of pointing out that they aren't forcing local school district to have votes, just giving them the ability. Second, they didn't even attempt to find data that shows that this resolution will do anything except make it more dangerous to go to school.
My conclusion, and this is my own conclusions not part of anything else, is that this resolution's purpose is to force school districts in Illinois to argue 2nd amendment rights on the school board. A very inappropriate place to have this discussion.
This also scares me a lot. It isn't hard for a couple of committed issue based people to get elected on a school board. It usually takes just a few dozen signatures to get on the ballot and only a few hundred votes to be elected. And these are elections most people don't take notice of until too late. Think about that for a second. Four people in your area who believe guns belong in school could easily get elected and not only force the discussion, but they would be a majority and would win the vote. Would this be the in the best interests of students?