Uinta County Herald | School district gives gun policy another shot

EVANSTON — The Uinta County School District Board of Trustees No. 1 held a public hearing on Proposed Rule CKA, the District’s Concealed Carry Policy, on Tuesday, March 30 – the most recent in a series of public hearings on the issue that have taken place each time the district has gone through the process of adopting the policy. The current effort marks the third time the district has held public hearings on the entire policy, as very similar policies were passed in 2018 and 2019, only to be declared invalid — including by the Wyoming Supreme Court — on procedural grounds in multiple legal challenges.

Superintendent Ryan Thomas provided an update on the current process at the March 30 meeting and said the proposed rule meets or exceeds the requirements of WS 21-3-132, the enabling legislation passed in the 2017 legislative session. Thomas said a committee of law enforcement officers had been consulted and weighed on the proposed rule and said those advising officers had said the rule’s firearms training requirements exceeded those required for their own certifications.

Thomas also shared information about what the initial training entails, describing it as “rigorous”, and said there are details regarding the types of ammunition and firearms permitted which will not be shared publicly for security reasons.

Council chair Jami Brackin said the council believes it is important to get community feedback on the proposed rule and she believes they have received good information and feedback during each consultation period. public. Perhaps because there have been several other public hearings on the matter, only four people spoke at the most recent hearing. Evanston High School student Aidan McGuire and Evanston resident Tim Beppler — one of the plaintiffs in lawsuits filed over the previously adopted policies — spoke out against the rule, while Deputy District Superintendent Doug Rigby and retired police officer Chris Brackin spoke in favor.

McGuire said he was “categorically opposed” to the rule for several reasons, including cost. He said the district had spent tens of thousands of dollars defending the policy in court, money he said would be better spent elsewhere, especially as the people who sued said that they might continue to challenge the rule until a ruling on constitutionality. claims is finally achieved. McGuire said the funds could instead be invested in resources and programs to potentially stop violent incidents before they start.

McGuire further said he participated in the Friends of Rachel program and training at EHS last year – a program created by a family who actually lost a loved one in a shooting at a street. school – and at no time did anyone argue for the arming of teachers during this training.

He also referenced his own experience with a recent armed intruder training in high school, during which he said he and a classmate became “victims” of a school resource officer playing the role. of a shooter. McGuire said if it was a real shooting, he doesn’t think an armed teacher in that class would have changed the outcome.

Finally, McGuire said that, contrary to some comments made in previous hearings on the matter, he does not believe the school board’s job is to advocate for Second Amendment rights, but rather to focus on safety and children’s education.

Rigby, who had also addressed the board at a hearing during one of the policy’s previous adoption processes, said it was impossible for him to separate his role as a district employee from that of relative. He said the armed teachers made possible by the passage of the CKA would be a measure of “last resort”, to be used only after the use of other measures, including emergency alert systems. SafeDefend that the district installed two years ago. He specifically mentioned pupils who might not be in classrooms if a violent intruder entered a school building, saying the ACK would help staff ‘take care of children who cannot fit behind a locked door’ .

“I want that last resort between my daughter” and a gunman, Rigby said.

He explained that he, too, participated in some of the firearms training for those applying for concealed carry clearance. Rigby said he consciously knew he wasn’t going to be hurt or killed during the simulations, but that the scenarios were “still as real as possible”, including the “shoot no shoot” scenarios.

Chris Brackin, who also spoke to the board about armed personnel before, said he supports the policy and appreciates the school board for putting it in place. He said he believed the majority of the community had already spoken out and were in favor of the policy and that teachers who would ask to carry a concealed firearm knew the risks and were prepared to act in situations. dangerous to save children’s lives.

Brackin referenced gun control and suggested asking for ‘a blood or a crip’ if they got their guns legally, while saying he was fine with background checks for gun purchases. ‘fire arms.

Beppler was the last to speak, telling the board he had already submitted numerous written comments, including new research and evidence. He said he suspected the council would vote again to adopt the policy, but asked them to pause and take the time to read and reflect on the evidence he had submitted. Beppler said some of that evidence included a study showing that armed school resource officers actually increase the risk of violence in a school because mass shooters are often suicidal.

He also referenced earlier comments from some board members that the lawsuits he was a party to were “frivolous,” noting that each lawsuit resulted in a loss to the district. “By nature, it’s not frivolous,” he said.

At the end of the comments, Thomas said he would compile all written comments received by email or submitted through a form available on the district’s website to present to the board for review. At the next meeting on April 13, the board will have an opportunity to respond to those comments, as required by Wyoming’s administrative procedure law. At the regular board meeting in May, directors can choose to approve the formal response to comments and possibly approve the CKA rule itself.

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