Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

March 28, 2014

MARK HEINIG: Guns in the school parking lot: a right or risk?

If Pence signs bill, schools could employ stricter security

By MARK HEINIG

LOCAL COLUMNIST

Should licensed gun owners be allowed to take their weapons on to school parking lots if they keep them out of sight in a car’s locked glove box? The General Assembly said yes, despite the objections of school personnel and many other folks. Senate Bill 229 is now on Gov. Pence’s desk awaiting his signature or his veto. It won’t be an easy choice. He is bound to encounter opposition either way.

Whatever he decides probably won’t permanently resolve the issue. As an educator, I oppose allowing guns on school property in any way, at any time, by anyone who doesn’t have a badge as well as a gun. I realize the National Rifle Association supports this bill and could continue working for it if it fails now. I agree the NRA has a legitimate interest in protecting our right to bear arms. However, I don’t think we should cherish that right more than the safety of our children.

SB 229 is supposed to protect me from a felony charge if I forget I have a gun in my car on school property. How could I ever forget something like that? I have yet to meet a gun owner who has misplaced the weapon and can’t find it. It’s not like losing your car keys. If you own a gun, you know where it is! If you don’t, you have no business owning it in the first place.

SB 229 can endanger our kids, teachers and parents. There is no foolproof way to conceal a gun in an automobile glove box. Somebody besides the gun owner inevitably finds out about it. I love working with teenagers, but they don’t always use good judgment.

Unless you work for Brinks or Garda, you probably don’t drive an armored car. How difficult would it be for a thrill-seeking adolescent to break into your vehicle, force your glove box open and take your gun? If that happens, you lose control of the weapon. The young thief may use it to shoot you, a teacher, a parent or — God forbid — another teenager. I have had to attend far too many teenage funerals during my career. I don’t need any more of them!

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