By Sean Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
Millard South Principal Curtis Case returned to his position as head of the school on Jan. 31. Just 26 days after being shot by student Robert Butler a few feet away from his desk, Case is returning to work for several hours each day as he recovers.
While Millard South eases back into normality following the tragedy, the debate as to what could have been done to prevent such an incident continues.
On Jan. 18 Sen. Mark Christensen introduced his solution, Legislative Bill 516, which would allow teachers, administrators and security to carry guns in school.
If the bill passes, it will be up to local school boards to approve the carrying of weapons by faculty or staff. Approval would require a two-thirds majority vote.
“Passing this bill seems like it would just potentially cause more problems,” freshman aviation major Otis Seiler said. “Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like a great idea on paper. I just don’t want to be walking to class with the discomfort that there could potentially be a hoard of guns around me.”
Currently, all Nebraska schools are gun-free unless an on-duty police officer is assigned to the school. Millard South did have such a resource officer on Jan. 5, but the officer was elsewhere in the building at the time of the shooting. LB 516 would enable faculty nearby to take the same safety actions that the officer could have taken, potentially preventing the death of Assistant Principal Vicki Kaspar.
While UNO’s own security team does patrol the campus on a 24/7 basis, no security officials are allowed to carry concealed weapons as of now. LB516 obviously would change such a rule.
However, in recent years, security has never needed a weapon to complete their duties of enforcing security on campus. If guns were needed or any extensive safety measures, it is protocol for officials to contact the Omaha Police Department. UNL does have its own armed police force, however.
If the legislation is passed, it would be UNO’s decision whether to approve faculty to carry weapons. A two-thirds vote from the university’s governing body would be required to authorize the action and students would be given written notice of such a decision.
“I think it actually might be a good idea,” Millard South senior and registered incoming UNO freshman Aimee Baker said. “I mean, my school was pretty shaken when it all took place, so I can see how it sounds like it would work. But passing something like this just seems like we are waiting for something bad to happen and I don’t know if I agree with such thinking.”
Other students are skeptical of such legislation.
“I have serious doubts that most professors have received military or police firearms training,” said senior Joshua Campbell. “Which means we would actually be putting more lives at risk if a shooting incident were to occur on campus. For some, the idea of being able to have a ready firearm makes them feel more secure, even if it further endangers their lives. But when it is a matter of life and death, we need to be as rational as possible because the cost of being wrong is just too high.”
In 2007, Texas’ Harrold Independent School District instituted a concealed weapons policy. Furthermore, teachers are required to take extensive gun training classes and only shatterproof bullets are used in order to reduce the risk of ricochet.
College campuses in Utah also allow concealed weapons.
With Case back at his desk, Millard South is falling back into routine. With LB516 working its way though the state legislature, this routine may be about to change.