A school in rural Colorado is implementing a new safety plan allowing the school's teachers and staff members to carry concealed handguns. The plan is in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting last year in Newtown, Conn. where 20 children and six adults were shot dead.
Briggsdale School superintendent Rick Mondt told 9News that the school has been considering new safety plans in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, as well as the fact that Briggsdale is about a 20 minute drive for police responding to a call at the school. Mondt also said less than 25 percent of the school's total teachers plan to conceal and carry a firearm on school grounds.
"It's not ideal," Mondt said, "It's not that we just want to have a gun in a school. It's because it really is a benefit, we believe, to the security of our students."
Mondt was an administrator in Jefferson County where the 1999 Columbine High School shooting occurred and brought the safety framework that emerged from that tragedy to Briggsdale. "My belief is that we will never need to test our plans," Mondt wrote in 2012 school safety memo, just after the Sandy Hook shooting. "However, I cannot make that a guarantee."
An unnamed Briggsdale staff member who spoke to The Greeley Tribune agreed with the new concealed carry plans, saying it is "worth taking the training and assuming the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon in the school, if knowing that if it was to happen at our school, I could possibly, and hopefully, do something to stop the situation and save some kid’s life."
Briggsdale is not the first rural Colorado school to arm members of its staff. Earlier in 2013, the Dove Creek and Dolores County School District RE-2 -- a small rural district in the southwest corner of Colorado that's home to less than 300 students -- voted to give two of its top administrators the ability to legally carry firearms in school because the district is so small they couldn't afford to hire a full-time security officer, The Denver Post reported.
Although small, Dove Creek was home to a 2009 plot of two teens who allegedly planned to kill the Dove Creek High School principal.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, lawmakers in several states looked to curb school violence with proposals that would arm teachers, many of which were met with staunch opposition. However, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a bill into law in March which enabled teachers to arm themselves. In Kansas and Georgia, lawmakers have also debated bills that would allow guns on school campuses.
Nearly 20 states already allow adults to carry a loaded gun on school grounds, generally provided that they have written permission from a principal or the school board. The laws don't necessarily specify exact reasons for giving teachers or adults the authorization to carry, but some do also include provisions for permissible activities like safety demonstrations or ceremonies.