September 13, 2022 – West Bend, Wi – The West Bend School Board spent 32 minutes Monday night discussing whether arming teachers would be a good way to improve school safety.
The final decision appeared to be more discussion was needed.
The topic was first addressed in the public comment portion of the meeting as adults in West Bend weighed in on the issue.
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Marietta Bailey – I would like to address the issue of allowing staff to carry guns at schools.
A gun doesn’t become an “Assault Weapon unless YOU CHOOSE to assault someone with it. Otherwise it is a PEACEKEEPER.
That’s why in the United States we have 390 MILLION ‘peacekeepers’ & only a handful of assault weapons that are turned into assault weapons by CRIMINALS and sick and evil individuals who don’t follow laws and want to do harm!
One reason schools are vulnerable is because of the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990. A gun-free zone makes schools a target and actually invites criminals with guns. The Gun-Free School Zone Act needs to be repealed. We need to stop advertising that schools are gun free. Criminals who want to go to those places to murder people need to know that there is a possibility that there are armed guards and staff who can defend themselves.
There are people, teachers and parents, saying they will not feel safe and fear for their children if there are guns in our schools. Except, we do have guns in our schools. There are armed police in the High School, Badger, Silverbrook and armed police visit the elementary schools regularly. If we have teachers or staff that are highly trained and willing to protect our students as well as a police officer, this will give our children a fighting chance, god forbid we happen to have a situation where this is needed.
In the states and school districts where this is already happening, where qualified teachers and staff are allowed to carry, there hasn’t been a single mass shooting at one of those schools.
If you vote yes, this will not authorize staff to carry guns. This will inform the legislature of Wisconsin to think about and possibly repeal the Gun-Free School zone Act and allow staff to carry at schools. Of course, school districts would have to approve and create a policy and make a plan….and staff members who are willing and want to carry a gun would have to go through a background check and training.
As staff, I do not have a problem with guns or staff concealed carry.
Inanimate objects are not the problem, criminals are the problem.
Mr. Roberts – “There’s absolutely no research that indicates that schools and I mean students, employees, educators and administrators, there is no research that makes schools safer from a potential mass shooting with more guns in schools. Despite the horrible tragedies of the mass shootings like parkland in Florida, and Texas, mass shootings are exceedingly rare.
Michelle Tordoer – “I’m a resident of Jackson and a parent. I am here to talk to you about the idea of teachers having guns in schools. I think that perhaps one of the most effective things would be to consider a similar situation and kind of juxtapose the guns in schools to guns on planes.
“From 1961-1972, there were at least 159 air-jackings, or airplane hijackings, and then from there until September 11th, I don’t even know… a bunch more. Since 9-11, there have been ZERO in America. This is not because things don’t get through TSA. It’s not because they are so thorough that nothing gets by them. I think they do a great job, but…
“It’s that within 8-months of 9-11, legislation was introduced, HR4635, Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act, and it was passed and became law by November of 2002. From the APAT Act, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, aka FFDO, was developed and by April of 2003, the first class of FFDO’s were receiving their free training and their firearm in accordance with the legislation.
“Since 9-11, there have been at least 55-hijackings globally. But since 9-11, none of those hijackings have occurred in the United States. It is not a coincidence that the United States is the only country that both trains and arms it’s pilots. And I think that looking at this program and the parameters in how they enforce training periodically, the extent of training that they have, the requirements at which they disarm pilots from being able to be an FFDO are all really significant things that could be utilized in the schools. And it’s completely voluntary, and, actually, as part of the FFDO, you’re not allowed to disclose that you are an FFDO. One of the reasons is that the disincentive to commit an act comes from not being certain, but knowing there’s a possibility that there is someone that’s going to stand up to you and have a gun.
“It’s human nature to seek an answer. We don’t have an answer to the school shootings. Guns aren’t a soul answer. We know that this is something that works. And inside of every school, there will be staff who are willing to conceal carry and properly train for it.
Rachel Kate – “Although I believe wholeheartedly that schools should and must be safe for all students. Arming staff is not the answer. Let’s take a look at the recent events that happen in Texas. There were many police officers present and armed in the building for all that horrific tragedy that occurred. But this still did not prevent nor stop the horrible events that happened. If our trained law enforcement is not properly trained or going to go in to stop an active shooter. How can we expect our teachers and support staff to do this.”
Jody Geenan – “I’m a taxpayer from West Bend who cares about families in our community. I will speak briefly on two topics, today. Conceal carry for staff and political paraphernalia in classrooms.
“Regarding conceal carry, an impressive 32 states allow teachers to effectively protect children by carrying a firearm on campus. That’s over 3/5 of our country.
“In 1999, ten people were already killed and/or injured at a high school in Littleton, Colorado, in the three minutes it took for the school resource officer to be alerted.
“In 2012, 26 people were shot by a 20-year-old within five minutes at an elementary school in Connecticut. The police arrived about one minute after the shooter took himself out.
“In 2018, 17 people were killed and more injured in a high school in Florida within four minutes. In all three situations, no staff was equipped to defend themselves or students and the stories continue to pile.
“With an uptick in school shootings, state and local governments have become proactive to curtail these tragedies by arming and training their WILLING and APPROVED staff for such emergencies. Inside of every school, there are teachers who will willingly run toward the sound of gunfire. The schools will identify them and tell them whatever tool and training you’re comfortable with we are going to give to you. There are numerous accounts of armed staff helping to block or stop school shootings.
“Florida’s comprehensive school safety legislation enacted after the Parkland event, “allows school districts to decide whether to participate in the school guardian program if it is available in their county. A school guardian must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training, pass a psychological evaluation and initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests. No teacher is required to participate.”
“If the school board decides in favor of concealed carry for staff, obviously it cannot get put into place in our school district unless our state legislature passes a law to allow it. Your vote simply tells our legislature that our school district is in favor of joining the other 32 states in enacting such a law.
“I urge you to vote yes to conceal carry for staff.
Parent in the district – “It’s no secret that there is a school violence problem. And we would all like our students to be as safe as possible. Arming teachers is not the solution. Our schools employ school resource officers who have extensive training inside the school and are on campus during school hours to respond. As well as policies and procedures in place to respond to concerning situations and events or more closely. Please take student safety events very seriously. I’m a parent of a student and I want her to be as safe as possible.”
School board member John Donaldson was the one who broached the topic addressing how to improve safety in the district.
“We don’t have adequate security across the district,” said Donaldson. “We have four liaison officers in the district and that’s not enough.”
While Donaldson made points about staff being trained and volunteering to participate, the majority of the board was difficult to convince.
School board president Chris Zwygart praised Donaldson for his commitment but felt the proposal needed more vetting. “I think there’s an appeal to the argument you make,” said Zwygart. “One is advocacy and the other is safety. Based on the feedback I don’t know that we’re there. I don’t know if the community is in support of this.”
Board member Nancy Justman focused on cost. “I 100% support some of Mr. Donaldson’ comments including increasing officers, metal detectors, securing doors. I want to see some advocacy though to lift the levy limits. I pay taxes in this community. We can’t legally do it with the state tying our hands.”
Donaldson pushed for consideration to the end stressing it was part of the freedom of this country. “I fully support anyone who is interested in protecting themself,” he said.
After much discussion Zwygart acknowledged this was an “ongoing debate” and he was “open to more discussion.” Zwygart also recommended a work session on school safety.
Superintendent Jen Wimmer said she would move forward to see who else is exploring similar safety proposals and investigate.
Board member Tonnie Schmidt, co-owner of Delta Defense, a company in West Bend that provides sales, marketing, operations and administrative support services to the US Concealed Carry Association, was not in attendance.
To the south, the Germantown School Board has moved forward with several additional measures to improve school safety by asking that the State of Wisconsin amend its laws to allow concealed carry in schools if requested by the school district. The Germantown School Board also asked the State of Wisconsin provide firearm training to school staff who request it.