School Security Solution?

Monday, October 9th 2006, 10:41 am
By: News On 6

An Oklahoma lawmaker came up with a measure he believes will improve school security, especially during an emergency, but it got little support during last year's state legislature as critics took aim on the proposal.

News on 6 anchor Craig Day takes another look at the idea of guns on campus.

Glen Bud Smithson is a retired state trooper. He's also a firearm safety instructor. As a state representative, the Democrat from Sallisaw introduced a bill last session he hoped would help with school security. "It's not the world that we grew up in. Where you could leave home and leave your doors unlocked and you trust every stranger that you seen. We don't have that today. So we're going to have to learn to protect ourselves."

The state house bill would have allowed principals and superintendents to carry a gun on school property. The administrators would have to get a concealed carry permit, undergo a background check and their school board would have to give the OK. “It was just something that would allow some of these schools to get a little first line defense on their own."

Smithson says the measure was prompted by concerns expressed by school superintendents in some rural parts of Oklahoma who feared law enforcement was too far away to respond quickly to an emergency. "We have schools in this area, that are 20 to 30 minutes away from response time from the closest sheriff's deputy. Yes we do. And that was a big concern."

The measure got some support in rural districts, but almost no backing in cities or schools in towns that had police nearby. So Smithson withdrew the bill. "It had so much opposition last year that I in all honesty, I don't see a chance of it passing again unless public sentiment changes."

State Representative Smithson doesn't anticipate re-filing the bill.

Despite heavy criticism, Smithson believes the measure was a good idea and at the very least, spurred discussion of ways to make schools safe. Smithson says he hopes the next legislature addresses ways to improve school security. He hopes that includes exploring state funding to help school districts with the cost of security personnel.