By The Bakersfield Californian
In response to The Californian's Feb. 2 editorial, "Train janitors to defend our campuses?":
Apparently, The Californian seems to think that creating another line of defense between our children and a predator intent on committing acts of violence in the classroom is an outrageous idea. Or at least that's what you'd think after reading Saturday's editorial. The paper criticizes Assembly Bill 202 as a delusional attempt to turn school campuses into "arsenals of loaded weapons." Well, I'd like to set the record straight about the intent of AB 202, which I co-authored with several of my Republican colleagues.
State law already allows school employees to carry a concealed firearm on campus if all licensing requirements are met and the local school district authorizes it. It is misleading to say that this bill is seeking to arm teachers and janitors who are currently not qualified to carry weapons. AB 202 simply empowers school districts to use general purpose funds for those school employees who request concealed weapon (CCW) training, so they can lawfully and safely carry a concealed firearm. This bill also exempts these employees from the California Public Records Act, which requires CCW holders' information be available to the public. This will protect staff from identification so they themselves do not become targets. In this way, school districts are enabling their staff to provide real, immediate and lawful protection to the students in their care.
Individuals authorized by the state of California to carry concealed firearms undergo comprehensive training, and are taught that the first step in diffusing potentially dangerous threats is making smart, responsible decisions appropriate to the situation. CCW holders know that using their firearm is the last resort, not the first. AB 202 will not turn school campuses into the O.K. Corral featuring "gun-toting teachers and janitors," and it will not diminish the seriousness with which those who lawfully carry concealed firearms take their duty.
AB 202 is just one idea to give schools around the state the opportunity to adopt pre-emptive security measures so their students can feel safe. This bill is not a heavy-handed mandate requiring teachers and janitors to carry guns. Under current law, districts do not have to allow school employees with CCW licenses to carry their concealed firearms on campus, and this bill will not take that decision-making power away from them. But if we are going to have an honest and complete discussion about classroom safety, we have to explore all feasible options. AB 202 is part of that conversation.
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, represents the 34th Assembly District. Another View presents a critical response to a previous editorial, column or news story.