To the Editor:
In an election year ploy Governor Raimondo announced that her education commissioner, Ken Wagner, issued a binding directive to all school superintendents to ban firearms from school property except those carried by “visibly identified law enforcement officers.”
She said this is necessary because Rhode Island is one of only four states (incorrect: there are ten) that allow those with a concealed carry permit to carry in schools. Colorado (Columbine), Connecticut (Sandy Hook) and Florida (Parkland) are among those that prohibit concealed carry. How did that work out for them?
Ironically, one week after Raimondo’s announcement a 15-year old student was shot to death on the campus of three Providence high schools. At least one school resource officer was present at the time. The city’s school superintendent said it was a “street crime” and not a “school shooting.” Raimondo’s feeble response: “We’ve got to do more.”
Whether the commissioner’s binding directive illegally preempts Rhode Island state law is an open question. What is clear is that someone with a carry permit may be asked to leave but cannot be arrested for violating a law.
One of her opponents, Joe Trillo, came out for metal detectors in schools, which the governor opposes because she thinks they would scare students. Trillo did not indicate who, in the absence of armed security personnel, would confront someone setting off the alarm.
What is also clear is that neither the governor nor the commissioner can cite any case where a concealed carry permit holder has discharged a firearm on school grounds. The same cannot be said of law enforcement officers.
In February of this year a third-grader in Hamony, Minnesota accidentally fired the school resource officer’s holstered weapon in a gymnasium. There were two incidents the following month. In Monterey County, California a teacher who is a reserve police officer teaching a firearm safety class discharged his gun into a ceiling. A school resource officer in Alexandria, Virginia accidentally discharged his weapon in a hallway. Then in May, an off-duty police officer in a Detroit suburb watching his son wrestle accidentally fired his weapon.
So much for the argument that only law enforcement officers are qualified and should be allowed to carry a gun on school grounds.
Richard J. August