Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rural Oklahoma School Posts Warning of Armed Staff

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rural Oklahoma School Posts Warning of Armed Staff

Article excerpt

A rural school district in Oklahoma put up signs this week alerting visitors that some staff members have access to guns, in what it says is an effort aimed at deterring school violence.

Schools in Okay, Okla., about 48 miles southeast of Tulsa put up signs that read, "Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students," the Tulsa World reports.

The signs follow up on a gun policy in the district's schools - which serve 420 students - approved by the school board in August that says staff members may bring a gun to campus concealed on their person or kept in a locked box.

"Having a sign in your front yard saying 'this is a gun-free zone' just tells the idiots, "Come on in," because we can't defend ourselves," Superintendent Charles McMahan told the World on Wednesday.

"[Okay's] sign might be enough to send somebody down the road looking for some other soft target. If that's what it does, it's helping our school district out," he added.

The superintendent says the requirements of Okay's policy exceed those of the state, which require anyone who carries a handgun on school property to have a concealed-carry license and be certified by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, a statewide group.

Nationally the idea of guns in schools appears to divide Americans, as The Christian Science Monitor's Molly Jackson reported in October.

Following the mass shooting at a school in Sandy Hook, Conn., in 2012, the National Rifle Association called for armed guards at all public schools, with NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre saying that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

A 2013 Huffington Post survey found that 38 percent favored letting teachers and school officials carry guns, while 40 percent opposed the idea. Another poll by the National Education Association found that just 22 percent agreed that teachers who received firearms training should be able to bring guns to school, with 68 percent opposed.

In South Carolina, lawmakers filed two bills this winter that mandate gun safety courses and Second Amendment-relate curricula in state schools. …

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