Arizona AG and Sheriff Gunning for Schools

In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy that took the lives of 28 people, including 20 elementary school children, officials and parents alike debate the issues of school safety and gun violence in America.

On December 27th, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne made national headlines with his controversial proposal to arm one person at each Arizona school with a gun. Horne’s proposal would have local law enforcement train the principal or a designee on how to carry, load, and properly discharge a weapon. Since it is not economically possible to have an armed police officer at every school, Horne said, “The next best solution is to have one person in the school trained to handle firearms, to handle emergency situations, and possessing a firearm in a secure location.”

In order to move forward, Horne’s plan would require legislative action to amend Arizona law, which could prove to be a political battle. Although a federal law known as the Gun-Free School Zones Act has some restriction on guns near schools, Arizona has its own state law ban on guns on school campuses, which eliminates the exceptions found in the federal statute.

In the 2011-2012 session, state lawmakers approved SB 1201 and HB 2729 to allow guns in public buildings and SB 1467 to allow them on higher-education campuses. All three pieces of legislation were in response to the January 2011 shooting that critically wounded then Tucson Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed 6 others including U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and 9-year-old Tucson resident Christina Taylor Green. Arizona governor Jan Brewer, typically a reliable 2nd Amendment rights advocate, vetoed all three bills.

Meanwhile, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, proposed his own plan to protect Arizona school children. Arpaio plans on dispatching volunteer posse members to 50 Maricopa County schools within the next week. Posse members are volunteers and provide their own equipment. “The Posse has the same training regarding guns as our regular deputy sheriffs, over 100 hours of training, plus refresher courses,” Arpaio said. (see Video report)

What can you do to help your kids through trauma and keep them safe at school? Get informed! School districts around the country invite parents to learn about the emergency response plan at their child’s school and/or district (i.e.: Paradise Valley Unified). What procedures would be followed at your child’s school? What methods would be used to communicate information with parents? How are potential issues coordinated with first responders? If the school were evacuated, where would you find your child?

Then, talk to your kids.  The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) offers advice about how to talk to school age children about safety and violence topics at their website.

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