Schools react to new gun laws after Senate overrides Nixon's veto

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COLUMBIA - Following the Senate's override of Gov. Jay Nixon's gun bill veto, or Senate Bill 656, Wednesday, schools have the option to allow specially trained teachers to carry guns.

Columbia Public Schools (CPS) says this law is too new to know if the district is going to make any changes.

"This just happened last night," CPS Board of Education President Christine King said. "The board hasn't talked about it."

But just because the board hasn't discussed this new bill yet doesn't mean guns are completely out of the question at CPS.

King voted in favor of a "safety and security" policy in June 2013, but it failed to pass by one vote. She did not say whether she would vote in favor of a new gun law if the board adds it to its agenda, but she explained how future discussions could differ from the last.

"My understanding of the passage [of Bill 656] is that the superintendent would be able to delegate somebody in each school, or somebody in the district, and they don't have to disclose who that is," King said. "It's different than the policy we had, and this law doesn't indicate that we have to have policy."

Not everyone agrees with having guns in schools.

"Well, I think it's a terrible bill in the first place," said Kathy Steinhoff, Hickman High School teacher and parent. "I mean, it's poorly written, it's not very clear, and at the core of it, the idea of having guns in schools is such a bad idea. Kids and guns really do not mix."

Steinhoff is an officer for the Columbia Missouri National Education Association (CMNEA), and she said worrying about guns would be an extra job responsibility.

She said her job as a teacher is to make sure students are learning and finding the best way to make them understand the material.

"I can't be worried about a gun at the same time," she said.

Other schools, like Hallsville and Southern Boone County, don't see a gun policy change in their near futures. Southern Boone County Superintendent Chris Felmlee said he would rather spend money on other school resources, while Hallsville Superintendent John Robertson said there has been no discussion on the issue.

The next CPS Board of Education meeting in Oct. 13.

The law will go into effect in about one month.