CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CBS DC/AP) — Local school boards could allow teachers and other workers at Wyoming’s K-12 schools who hold concealed-carry permits to carry guns on campus under a bill the Wyoming House of Representatives introduced on Thursday.
The House voted 54-to-6 to introduce a bill sponsored by Rep. John Eklund, R-Cheyenne.
Eklund said he believes the state urgently needs to act on the school-security issue. There’s little if any law-enforcement presence in many rural areas, and school workers need to be ready to protect themselves and their students, he said.
“I believe that it might be a deterrent for a terrorist or criminal to break into a school or harm our kids,” Eklund said after the vote on his bill. “It might be a deterrent to know that there might be guns waiting on the other side of the wall.”
Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, was among the few who voted against Eklund’s bill.
Speaking after the vote, Brown said anyone who would consider doing harm to schoolchildren should face the uncertainty that teachers and other school workers could be armed. But he doesn’t believe that merely having a concealed-carry permit is a sufficient level of training, he said.
Brown suggested the state require the same level of firearms training for anyone with access to guns in schools as it does for active duty law enforcement officers.
“They need to be POST-certified (Peace Officer Standards and Training) because then they’re schooled, and have a little bit of experience in the decision-making process and how, in the split second, to make the decision and make the right one,” Brown said.
The House voted down a more sweeping bill Thursday. Sponsored by Rep. Allen Jaggi, R-Lyman, that bill would have allowed anyone over the age of 21 who holds a concealed-carry permit to carry guns at schools and college campuses in the state.
“This bill doesn’t give any rights to say who can and who can’t carry,” Jaggi said. “I think we just need to take the law of the land seriously. Criminals don’t ask when they come into a gun-free zone.”
The University of Wyoming has opposed calls to allow concealed carry on campus.
Chris Boswell, vice president for governmental and community affairs at the University of Wyoming, said this week the UW administration favors the current approach under which no one but trained law enforcement officers may carry concealed weapons on campus or at sporting events without approval from the UW police chief.
Last year, the U.S. Senate struck down a bipartisan bill that would have expanded gun background checks following the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
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