By Brian Park
Updated (December 20, 10:15 a.m.)
In response to Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve is asking the Capistrano Unified School District to allow teachers to carry firearms in classrooms as a safety measure.
In a letter dated Thursday, December 20, Reeve asks school officials to consider allowing willing school staff members, teachers and volunteer parents, who all might already own firearms, to carry their weapons on school grounds.
“Efforts must be taken to empower teachers, staff and parents to protect our children. Our society has been provided a false sense of security with schools partially surrounded by chain-link fences with unlocked gates and a 1,000-foot gun-free zone. It has continuously been demonstrated that neither deter the evil intent of murdering dozens of children. It is time as adults entrusted with the lives of children, we overcome our denial,” Reeve said in the letter.
Reeve, who said in an email that he also sent the letter to four private schools, suggests firearms could be safely secured in classrooms with no additional funding and that no teacher or staff member be required to carry a weapon. He also provides an alternative that would allow security guards to arm themselves.
“While armed security is more costly, unarmed security is no security at all,” Reeve said.
Reeve also calls for school staff and teachers to receive additional training for lockdown situations and for the district to consider locking down school campuses to allow for single access points.
District spokesman Marcus Walton confirmed the district received the letter and rejected any idea to allow school staff to carry firearms.
“Like school districts everywhere, we’re getting lots of well-intended suggestions and ideas on how to increase student security and safety in schools,” Walton said. “While we appreciate the councilman’s interest in this topic, we will not entertain any proposal to have staff persons carry firearms.”
John Alpay, president of the CUSD Board of Trustees, offered a similar statement:
“In light of the recent unfortunate events in Connecticut, we welcome the comments and suggestions from parents and community leaders on how to make our schools safer,” Alpay said. “However, the concept of allowing firearms onto our campuses is simply not viable.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sam Allevato, a 33-year veteran of law enforcement, believes the school board must thoroughly research all viable options before implementing additional safety measures.
“They need to bring in experts on school safety and start the discussion of what they can do to make schools safe and make sure sure that all the precautions are being taken,” Allevato said. “As to the one suggested by Mr. Reeve, that is an issue the school board will have to take up and discuss. It needs a lot of vetting. That type of reaction entails a lot of issues that needs further study.”
On Friday, shortly after the news broke of the shooting, Superintendent Joseph Farley released a statement on behalf of the board of trustees, offering the district’s condolences to those affected by the shooting. Farley also provided a link to the state Department of Education’s website with resources on how schools and parents can help students cope with tragic events.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens also released a statement Friday, indicating that deputies would have an increased presence at schools.
Reeve’s letter is posted below: