Politics

December 20, 2012

Head of Maine gun group calls for guns in schools

But the president of the Maine teachers union says 'there is no place for guns in schools.'

From staff reports

(Continued from page 1)

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Police search a building after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14. The president of the Maine Gun Owners Association says teachers with firearms training should be allowed to carry guns following the Connecticut shooting in which 20 elementary school children were killed.

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He said the issue of allowing guns in schools has not come before the association, but speaking personally, he doubts that such a proposal would be acceptable.

"From my perspective, if there are no guns in schools, then no one will ever get hurt. If there are guns, then there is the possibility someone might get hurt," he said.

Stearns said he respects Weinstein's view but a better solution might be to hire armed security guards.

"Educators have a lot of other things on their mind. They need to be focused on their students. You don't need to have a teacher thinking about where their weapons and ammunition are located," Stearns said.

Lois Kilby-Chesley, president of the Maine Education Association, said the teachers union believes "there is no place for guns in schools."

She said the association, representing about 24,000 teachers and other school staff members, believes that violence can be avoided by expanding school mental health services and diagnosing mental health issues at an early age.

Maine should also renew its focus on preventing bullying and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

"Our kids and communities deserve common-sense laws that protect our safety. No one needs a weapon of war for hunting or self-protection," the MEA said in a statement released late Thursday night.

Augusta's superintendent, Connie Brown, said, "We need to be more thoughtful about (allowing guns in schools). I'm not sure this is the right course."

Brown, who will become executive director of the Maine School Management Association in January, said she might support posting someone in a school who is trained to deal with a violent perpetrator.

She would not arm that person with a gun, she said, but might consider giving him or her a Taser. Brown said the person would not be a teacher.

Brown, who also has been a school principal, said, "I am not suggesting we go with armed security guards."

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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