The newest firearms proposal in Sacramento is arming principals, teachers and even janitors at public schools as a deterrent to violence. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a San Bernardino County Republican, called for “school marshals,” modeled on the federal government’s air marshals, the armed, undercover police who travel on random commercial airline flights. In keeping with the undercover aspect of the program, Donnelly would carve an exemption in state public records laws and keep secret the identities of school employees who have concealed-weapons permits.
Here are my questions:
There’s the obvious – thinking back to my days in school, which of my teachers would I have trusted with a firearm? More to the point, perhaps, who wouldn’t I trust?
In the here and now, who will decide which teachers should be armed? And who shouldn’t?
When someone gets denied a permit, and it will happen, what happens then? A union grievance? Arbitration? An administrative law proceeding? A lawsuit?
If it gets as far as litigation, what about the secrecy promises? As a matter of constitutional law, courts are open to the public. And the public is entitled to know what’s being spent on litigation involving public employees, right?
Who’s liable if a teacher, ahem, goes postal?
And what’s the liability if a teacher is denied a permit and there’s a shooting in that teacher’s school or their classroom? If the victims include the teacher?
If this bill goes anywhere – and it won’t – these issues will come up unless, prior to arming the teachers, someone takes Shakespeare too literally: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
– Jim Sweeney