Arming Teachers in Columbia Public Schools? Panel Debates Safety Strategies

3 years 6 months 1 week ago February 12, 2013 Feb 12, 2013 Tuesday, February 12 2013 Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:15:00 PM CST in News
By: Meghann Mollerus

COLUMBIA - Gun violence and control became a hot topic of discussion in not only President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening but also at Columbia's Hickman High School.

Parents, teachers and students packed the seats in the school's commons area to engage in a student-organized panel forum on violence and safety in U.S. schools and society.  The panel consisted of an MU sociologist, an MU law professor, a Columbia Police Department sergeant and Columbia Public Schools superintendent Chris Belcher--all whom offered different viewpoints about whether teachers should be armed with guns in their classrooms and how best to protect students from violence. 

Belcher said even before the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre that left 20 students and six teachers and school administrators dead in December, Columbia Public Schools has been working on fine-tuning a three-part violence prevention plan that involves training teachers how to assess the severity level of a potentially violent threat.  Other plan objectives include establishing better communication and relationships between students and adults and leaving school safety decision making in the power of public school boards--not the state legislature.

"The state legislature has no business telling school districts that they have to allow people with conceal and carry permits to have weapons in the school without disclosing and creating knowledge to the school. One of the greatest democracies we have is public school boards," Belcher said.

Nonetheless, there currently are four bills on this topic in the Mo. state legislature.  House Bill 70, which would allow a teacher or school administrator to carry a concealed firearm into a school, currently awaits a final read and vote in the Mo. House of Representatives.

Libertarian panelist Gary Nolan expressed support for the bill's objective.  He said arming teachers who have proper conceal and carry permits is the only way to "respond to a bad guy with a gun."  "There is nothing else to protect you," he said.  "It's a false sense of security to believe we lock the door and the bad man won't come in."

MU sociologist and panelist Wayne Brekhus argued that of the 4,000 children and teenagers killed by guns each year, 60 percent are homicides.  He said of that number, less than 10, in most years, happen in schools.  Columbia Police Sgt. and panelist Joe Bernhard affirmed this point, saying, "I'm pretty comfortable with my kids coming to school here and feel they're safe.  I'm more worried about my kids getting in an accident on the way to and from school."

MU law professor and panelist S. David Mitchell said, "We ignore the fact that schools are microchosms of society, and we need to consider outside and inside factors," such as bullying and mental health, which can be "triggering mechanisms of violence."

Such outside and inside factors, Belcher said, can and do involve not only student behavior.  "Our biggest threat every day is an emotional parent, a custody dispute, an estranged spouse or things of that nature. When they come to our schools, whether it be [through] a secretary or teacher or administrator, we have to assess is this person just upset, should we calm them down, have a conversation, or is this person potentially violent?  These are tough decisions for people who were trained to be educators."

Belcher said the Columbia Public Schools system soon will begin a process of putting lock-down and buzz-in systems on all school doors and increasing the number of school security cameras.

 

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY - The Central Chapter of Empower Missouri and guests gathered to talk about why it is in everybody's... More >>
6 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 8:50:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Highway Patrol launched a new technology in an effort to crackdown on more traffic offenders.... More >>
6 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 8:42:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A celebrity basketball game was just one part of the first night of the “Back to School Explosion”... More >>
7 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 7:51:00 PM CDT in News
INDEPENDENCE (AP) — A man who drove 115 mph and used marijuana before a deadly suburban Kansas City crash has... More >>
7 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 7:30:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - As coaches and players conduct walk-throughs in preparation for Friday night football, many are also checking helmets after... More >>
8 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 6:33:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The results of a Missouri audit released Thursday show ther e's a nearly $600 million backlog of... More >>
9 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 6:25:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – Many of the advertising signs posted on utility poles or medians in Columbia are illegal. A new volunteer... More >>
9 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 6:23:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A Missouri judge is blocking the state public defender director from appointing Gov. Jay Nixon to... More >>
9 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 5:28:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Transportation is celebrating the completion of the I-70 bridges project. The $17.5 million... More >>
10 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 5:19:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Voluntary Action Center still has window units from Columbia Water and Light that can be exchanged for... More >>
10 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 5:00:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The re-opening of a part of the MKT Trail has been delayed two months. The Flat Branch... More >>
10 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 4:56:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland has settled a lawsuit over claims the company was behind a now-imprisoned... More >>
10 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 4:53:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Columbia man was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday for an investment fraud scheme. ... More >>
10 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 4:37:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to contribute $1 million toward a new indoor sports facility in... More >>
11 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 3:33:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Top military officials ga thered at the Missouri Capitol to mark the retirement of a Missouri... More >>
11 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 3:31:56 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A car collision caused an SUV to flip onto its side on College Avenue Thursday. A truck... More >>
12 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 3:16:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri School of Journalism announced a new diversity program Thursday. The plan is called the "Student... More >>
13 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 2:25:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA – A spike in traffic deaths is correlated to low gas prices nationwide and especially in Missouri, according to... More >>
13 hours ago August 25, 2016 Aug 25, 2016 Thursday, August 25 2016 Thursday, August 25, 2016 1:49:00 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
4am 72°
5am 71°
6am 69°
7am 69°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

3:07a
Mad Money
4:00a
Early Today
4:30a
KOMU 8 News Today
3:00a
Paid Program
3:30a
Paid Program
4:00a
Cheaters

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
Masters of Illusion
7:30p
Masters of Illusion
8:00p
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld