A proposed state Senate bill would loosen restrictions on carrying weapons in and around schools. Gibraltar School District is taking steps to tighten and clarify its own gun policy in anticipation of its passage.
Guns are not allowed on school property in Gibraltar and the bill will not change that, but it does repeal restrictions on schools who do not have a policy prohibiting guns. That change is prompting the district to emphasize its prohibition on guns.
“Firearms which used to be prohibited are now allowed on school grounds,” said superintendent Tina Van Meer. “It also gives schools the ability to post signs prohibiting firearms on school property. We have to be careful in making sure that our signs are clearly understood and it says, in no uncertain terms, you cannot bring firearms on this property.”
Gibraltar will increase the amount of signage declaring the prohibition of guns on school property.
Senate Bill 169 was met with controversy and approved by a bipartisan committee vote primarily because of its provision allowing someone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. But the Gibraltar School District is responding to the provision affecting schools, which, according to analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau, “eliminates the prohibition on carrying a firearm on school grounds and, for persons without a license to carry a concealed weapon, in a school zone.”
Schools and private businesses can still prohibit firearms on property, but the bill will change the penalty from a felony to a trespassing, which carries a lighter misdemeanor charge.
“The weakening of these penalties is especially concerning,” said Dean of Students Tim Mulrain.
“I’m all for gun rights but this is not something that should happen,” said school board president Mark Weborg.
The bill passed the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety by a 3-2 vote on Sept. 20 and, despite being available for scheduling in the Senate, has been quiet ever since. Eleven days after the committee vote, a shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people at a concert, reviving attention to gun laws across the country.
Mulrain said he expects the bill to pass.