If Kentucky congressman gets his way, guns would be allowed on school property

Massie has introduced Safe Students Act
If Kentucky congressman gets his way, guns would be allowed on school property
Posted at 8:00 AM, Feb 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-18 08:00:26-05

School zones could once again be open to any person carrying a gun if a bill by U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) is approved by Congress -- a change that President Trump promised during his campaign.

Massie, of Lewis County, said repealing the Gun-Free School Zones Act would make schools safer.

H.R. 34, or Safe Students Act, recently introduced by Massie, would eliminate the federal law that makes it illegal to have a gun in or on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property. It applies to primary and secondary schools, whether public, parochial or private.

In an email, Massie wrote that "merely posting gun-free-zone signs provides NO deterrent to criminals."

Jim Henline of Fort Thomas agrees with Massie.

"We already know gun-free zones do absolutely nothing to deter those who wish to do harm," he wrote in an email. "It would seem to me that all a gun-free zone does is tell the would-be criminal that this area will offer no opposition to their acts of cowardice. While at the same time it disarms those who would be able to help and prevent a tragedy."

Some parents aren't so sure.

Thane Thompson, an Anderson Township resident whose two daughters attend Forest Hills schools, said a repeal is concerning.

"Only an on-duty, sworn peace officer should be able to carry a weapon in a school," he said. "It doesn't matter if a civilian has taken a concealed-carry class or if they are a crack shot at the range. If there wasn't a weapon at school, they just provided it.

"A civilian only adds extra chaos to a situation," Thompson added.

Deadly school shootings have become more prevalent in the last two decades -- Columbine in 1999 (15 dead), Sandy Hook in 2012 (28 dead), Chardon (Ohio) High School in 2012 (3 dead), Red Lake (Minnesota) High School in 2005 (10 dead), and dozens more with one or two dead.

Regardless, Newport Superintendent Kelly Middleton says that "if it says any of my employees can carry a gun to school, that would be the craziest thing I've ever heard."

Middleton said he would be against unlimited access to guns, "with the exception of trained police officers."

Cincinnati Public School officials so far are in a "watch" mode.

Janet Walsh, director of public affairs for the district, said they've not had problems with the existing law but "will monitor the outcome of proposed legislation with interest."

Walsh credits the district's relations with police and school resource officers for keeping schools safe. Ohio already gives school boards the right to allow law enforcement and school security officers to carry weapons and allows those boards to give written permission for others to carry weapons, she said.

Ohio is among states loosening gun laws, even at its schools. Ohio, for example, allows a gun in a motor vehicle while its driver is picking up or dropping off a child at school.

Massie says his bill would allow states to regulate gun laws regarding schools.

"If my bill passes," Massie said, "primary and secondary schools would be treated like colleges from a federal standpoint."" The states would regulate individual permissions and restrictions.

He also said the bill would not affect the ability to prosecute anyone threatening a school with a gun or rifle.

"The purpose of the bill is to avoid unjust prosecution of law-abiding gun owners, not to increase prosecutions," Massie said. "If an individual threatens a school, police already have a cause for intervening, with or without the GFSZA (Gun-Free School Zones Act)."

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas introduced similar bills in 2007 and 2011, but they did not make it out of committee.

Co-sponsors of HR 34 include Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Georgia) and Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas).