Home > Uncategorized > New Hampshire’s Latest Actions on Guns in School… SOME Hopeful Signs!

New Hampshire’s Latest Actions on Guns in School… SOME Hopeful Signs!

February 23, 2018

Today’s Valley News featured a front page article on action taken by the NH State House to kill a bill that would have allowed college students to carry pistols and revolvers on campus. Proponents of the bill argue that only the state can regulate guns and further argue that armed students would prevent gun violence from occurring on campuses that do not have armed guards:

“Not all campuses have security,” said Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown. “College kids — or adults, because they’re adults at this age — deserve the right and have the right to protect themselves against school shootings.”

Opponents, who prevailed by nearly 2-1, argued that more guns on campus would create more chaos.

Opponents argued that the youngest college students are adolescents who may be experimenting with alcohol and drugs, and that allowing them to carry guns would be unwise. They also said in the event of an active shooter, it might be unclear who was the shooter and who was the defender, which could have fatal consequences for innocent bystanders “If there is an active shooter incident on a college campus, let’s say there’s 1,000 students and 100 of them have firearms, it would be a disaster,” said Rep. David Welch, R-Kingston. “Law enforcement coming into a place like a school with half a dozen or a dozen people with guns drawn is not a good scenario.”

In the meantime, and perhaps more importantly, the Senate approved sending an amendment introduced by our local Senator, Martha Hennessy, that would give local school boards the power to prohibit guns in designated safe school zones. As the Valley News article reported Ms. Hennesy’s motion to introduce the amendment was not appreciated by the Senate President, but WAS ultimately sent to the education committee by voice vote. The exchange was reported as follows:

“I believe that not one child is New Hampshire should be afraid to go to school and that not one parent should fear for their child’s safety when they’re dropped off,” Hennessey, a Hanover Democrat, said on the Senate floor.

Her argument was met with a gavel from Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, who chided Hennessey for straying from procedure. The sound was so loud that Hennessey jumped back mid-speech.

“Senator, we’re not having a debate onthe amendment,” Morse said…

“The amendment referenced today suggests a major policy change in our state. Like all legislation put forth in the Senate, this measure deserves to be properly vetted though the legislative process including a public hearing and thoughtful, deliberate consideration of its effects to ensure that it does what we intend for it to do while avoiding unintended consequences,” Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley said in a statement later in the day. “All of us agree that our children and teachers deserve to feel safe and protected at our public schools, and we will take the appropriate steps to ensure that we are doing what is best for our state and our children.”

Hennessey reluctantly supported the move, which she hopes will lead to a public hearing and further debate.

“I am disappointed we are not addressing this issue faster and sooner, because in the meantime, children are dying,” she said.

In the meantime, Governor Chris Sununu was appearing on our State NPR station touting his “solution” to the problem of guns in school: an $18,000,000 initiative to upgrade security in schools.

“That’s about 300 schools (that) will get money for security doors, surveillance systems, emergency plans, training for teachers,” he said.

New Hampshire, like virtually every other state in the union, has woefully underfunded infrastructure for at least a decade… and while school districts will greatly appreciate ANY funding for infrastructure, it is hard to believe that district would choose to spend $18,000,000 on security doors, surveillance systems, emergency plans, training for teachers rather than spending it on upgrading their technology, fixing leaky roofs, or addressing deferred maintenance projects involving HVAC, parking lots, windows, or a host of other maintenance issues that local boards might prioritize above security doors, surveillance systems, emergency plans, training for teachers. I can think of many laws that would not cost $18,000,000 that would make schools more safe, beginning with the law Senator Hennessy proposes and ending with the kind of gun control legislation Connecticut passed after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Here’s hoping that NH legislators will hear from teachers, students, school board members, and administrators when the hearings are convened on Martha Hennessy’s amendment… and here’s hoping that democracy functions on that issue the way it did on the bill that would have allowed pistols and revolvers on campuses.

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