COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Columbiana Board of Education talked Tuesday evening with community members about whether or not to let district employees carry concealed weapons.
Columbiana Superintendent Don Mook has been in education for 24 years. He never thought one day he would be talking about arming his teachers.
Thirteen of the 120 people in attendance had something to say.
“There should be a deterrent so they would think twice about coming to this school,” said Dr. Jim Garstick, of Columbiana.
A majority of the people who spoke favored concealed carry, but it was not by a lot — six were for it and five were against it. One of those in favor was Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman.
“If a member of the school faculty is willing to submit to rigorous training and background testing to prove their capability, the positives likely outweigh the negative,” Blakeman said.
Matthew Peterson has a third grader, a first grader and a preschooler in the Columbiana school system. He’s against concealed carry for the staff.Watch: Full Columbiana community meeting
“I don’t know that I would pull my children out. But it is certainly enough to make my wife and I stop and think about whether we want our children enrolled in the school district,” Peterson said.
Joseph Landsberger recently retired after 20 years in the army. He was for it.
“We need to support them, we need to secure them,” Landsberger said.
Parent Brian Grant was opposed.
“I cannot understand how more guns in any situation causes less shooting,” Grant said.
Junior Nathan Whitehead said he’s not comfortable in a room with one door, throwing books at a person.Video: Interview with Superintendent Mook
“I think if we can trust our police officers with guns, for them to be responsible, we should be able to trust our teachers as well,” the student said.
Eventually, it’s the school board’s decision on whether or not its staff members will carry concealed weapons.
Dylan Edwards, the final speaker of the night, ended with this:
“Good luck in making the decision. I would not want to be in your shoes.”
Another option mentioned was hiring armed school resource officers for every school. But, nothing has been proposed in Columbiana — there’s nothing on the table to be voted on.
The public meeting started at 6 p.m. at Columbiana High School. After that, the regularly-scheduled board meeting began at 7 p.m.