New law prohibits teachers with permits from carrying guns on campus
ANDERSON, Calif. - Starting January 1, 2018, California school employees with concealed carry permits will no longer be able to bring firearms on campus.
On October 7, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 424 making it illegal for school workers who have concealed carry permits to bring guns on campus.
State law already prohibited civilians, who were not school workers, from bringing firearms onto campuses, but a change in the law last year gave school district superintendents power to decide if employees could bring concealed weapons onto campuses, according to Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D- Sacramento), who authored AB 424.
The Anderson Union High School District was one of the state's school districts to authorize school employees with concealed carry permits to bring guns on campus. McCarty said this only increases the chance of school shootings.
"A safe learning environment is essential for our children to be successful in the classroom," McCarty said. "That's not possible if a school district allows armed civilians to roam California school campuses."
The California Teachers Association, which has more than 300,000 members, has long-advocated a stance against educators carrying guns in classrooms and on campuses. The CTA supported the passage of AB 424.
On their website, the CTA says, "Armed security should be left to the experts. But educators need and want continued training to help them spot potential mental health needs, bullying or high-risk behaviors."
The measure was opposed by groups advocating for gun owners including the National Rifle Association, and the Firearms Policy Coalition, which noted that there have been no shootings involving California school employees who brought guns to campuses.
"The constitutional right to bear arms is based on the fundamental human right to self-defense," the coalition wrote to lawmakers. "AB 424 undermines these very important principles based on little more than a whim."
A spokesman for McCarty said their goal through this law was to have more law enforcement on campus. He said it is difficult for law enforcement to determine who is "good" and who is "bad" when trying to neutralize a situation, therefore, more people, not in uniform, with guns on campus is less safe.
Anderson School District Superintendent Tim Azevedo disagrees.
"Maybe that's the case in downtown Sacramento, but where I have a campus like West Valley where it's 15 to 20 minutes to get law enforcement out there, or so many schools in the San Joaquin Valley that are out in small towns in farming areas and stuff, they don't have that immediate assistance. He represents downtown Sacramento, there's law enforcement probably every second block. We don't have that luxury," Azevedo said. "Out of 100 Northstate parents, 99 were for school staff carrying on campus, only one raised concern."
"Law abiding concealed permit carriers to possess a weapon on a campus, which we have done in our district for 25 years, and it's never been an issue," Azevedo said. "It seems like the people, that are law abiding citizens who go through this process, are the ones who are being penalized, and increasing the risks to our kids."
Azevedo says security on the six campuses in his district comes out of the school funding, saying there's no additional help from the state of California. The school district already has an officer from a local police department patrolling one of its campuses and a Shasta County Sheriff's Deputy on another.
Azevedo says they tried reaching out to McCarty, but because they do not have an address that is in his district, they were unable to submit questions and concerns.
The superintendent disagrees with the new law but says his district will comply.
For more information on the bill, click here.