Two area parents on opposite ends of the guns in schools debate responded to the Log Cabin Democrat’s request to speak up on the issue.
Brandon Holley, father of two and Greenbrier resident, says he is for arming staff, from the administration to custodial employees.
“As long as they are properly trained, I believe both teachers and staff, and as far as janitorial staff, could be armed if they’re properly trained. (Custodial staff) are always in the halls,” Holley said.
Holley’s daughter starts Kindergarten this month in Greenbrier, and he says he “completely supports” arming her teachers.
“It’s going to be that much safer, and if someone does come in, we have armed people who are trained in the situation,” he said.
Lauren Tillman Russell, of Conway, has three children in Conway schools. She says guns in schools is a “horrible idea.”
“I don’t think it is wise. I don’t think arming teachers will solve anything if we have armed gunmen coming into the school,” she said. “Guns are dangerous and the more we arm people, the more people are going to get hurt.”
Russell said her family owns guns, but she doesn’t think it is wise to have children close to firearms.
“I watch the news like anyone else. I know guns have their usefulness, and I’ve considered getting a gun myself. I just don’t want them in our schools,” said Russell.
Potential mistakes make Russell uneasy with the idea.
Holley said he recognizes the argument that accidents could happen.
“On the same token, I’d rather that they be prepared and take that chance,” he said. “I’d rather it be there and not need it than need it and not have it.”
Russell said, remembering herself and her husband as mischievous teens, she sees potential for a child to get his or her hands on one of the guns staff members may carry.
“Kids are like that. They’re curious. They’re going to find out things you don’t want them to find out,” she said.
If guns are stored away, locked in a teacher’s desk, Russell said an active shooter isn’t going to wait for the teacher to retrieve the gun.
“Either way, it’s dangerous or could be kind of useless in a situation,” said Russell.
Holley said he doesn’t think it is likely Greenbrier schools have to fear an active shooter situation, but “it’s always a possibility.”
“I’d rather have people on the inside armed than people hiding and calling 9-1-1 and hoping for the best, and kids get killed before law enforcement gets there,” he said.
Holley said he believes training some school staff members to the level of reserve deputies would be a beneficial compromise.
Russell said she could live with on-site, trained professionals carrying weapons at her kids’ schools.
“Trained professionals might be a good idea, but arming every teacher and person at the school, no. Yes, I’d like an officer or an off-duty officer,” she said. “I think it’s all about training.”
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)