Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has been battling school districts that want to arm trained staff to protect their schools. Today he lost the latest battle in the war:
A state regulatory board reversed itself Wednesday and voted to allow school districts with staff trained and certified to carry a handgun to provide armed security on campus.
Last month, the state Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies voted to suspend all registrations it had approved previously for school employees in 13 school districts to serve as armed security guards. The board acted after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in an Aug. 1 advisory opinion that the board could not legally authorize school employees to carry guns on campus.
The panel heard appeals of the suspensions Wednesday, and though the attorney general’s office maintained its position that schools cannot arm their personnel under current law, the board voted to rescind the suspensions and allow all 13 districts previously approved for such programs to proceed for two years and let the Legislature in 2015 consider the issue.
“The Legislature’s going to have to make some kind of change, some kind of accommodations for a public entity to register their employees as security officers,” the board’s chairman, Ralph Sims, told reporters after Wednesday’s board meeting.
The Attorney General’s opposition might make sense if these school districts were going to arm faculty and staff without first pre-screening and then sending them through training, but if Clarksville School District is representative of the other 11 districts, parents should feel much more secure about their children’s safety.
For the school districts the arming of faculty and staff makes sense from both fiscal and tactical perspectives.
Uniformed school resource officers add additional salary costs to already tight school budgets, while serving little actual use during the course of a normal school day. If they hired armed guards, the schools would be spending money that could better be used in the classroom.
In the event that someone did target a school for a pre-planned attack, their first targets would be uniformed armed guards to eliminate their only real threats. Only a few administrative staff members in each school will know which faculty and staff members have concealed weapons and training, which makes the possibility of a successful attack a more dicey proposition for anyone mulling an attack. Knowing that some staff and faculty in the school are armed, but not knowing which ones or how many, serves as a further deterrent.
As a fairly astute NRA Vice President said to much derision from anti-gunners earlier this year, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”
It looks like these school districts agree.