Protesters condemn proposal to arm KHSD teachers

    Parents, teachers and activists hold signs Monday night, Oct. 3, 2016, in Bakersfield, Calif., protesting the Kern High School District board's consideration of a proposal that would allow teachers to have guns on campus. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

    A group of protesters gathered outside the Kern High School District boardroom on Monday night to protest an item that wasn't even on the agenda.

    Floated by the board months ago, they were out to condemn the proposal that teachers be allowed to carry concealed firearms.

    It comes after the board's controversial decision in June to allow people who are not staff members to bring their weapons on campus with permission and a permit.

    "Nobody wants it but them!" exclaimed activist Dolores Huerta outside the meeting, referring to the board.

    "I cannot think of anything more unwelcoming than to have guns in the classrooms," she added.

    Inside the meeting, the majority of people who commented were against any regulation allowing more guns on campus.

    "The training of CCW permit holders is for personal safety. It has nothing to do with the protection of other people," said one man.

    Aside from physical harm, allowing staff to carry concealed weapons could have other negative affects on students, said Gerald Cantu, an organizer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

    The district currently has taken out a $1 million insurance policy to allow those who aren't staff members to have firearms on campus. But if teachers were allowed to have guns in classrooms, he imagines the financial liability would be much higher.

    "By virtue of allowing guns on campus, it's going to increase insurance costs. That money is going to come from the general fund and be taken away from education," said Cantu.

    Those who were in favor of having armed teachers in classrooms based their argument on one thing: the fear of mass shootings.

    "How long do we have to wait before it happens here?" asked Robert Dalessio, rhetorically, warning the board of potential tragedy.

    Dalessio trains CCW permit holders at the gun shop and firing range, Second Amendment Sports.

    To him, armed teachers would not be a substitute for security guards. Rather, they would serve as a last line of defense.

    "An officer is not going to be able to respond to each and every classroom," he said, implying that a teacher could potentially save lives by shooting an intruder before security arrives.

    But on a day to day basis, Aldo Aviles-Rojas, a junior at Frontier High, said knowing a teacher is armed would be harmful to the learning environment.

    "I feel there would be a huge distrust between students and staff," he said, adding that the discomfort would likely have an affect on his studies.

    Dalessio claims there is a simple solution to that: just don't tell the students.

    "When you look at CCW, the first 'C'is 'carry,' and the second 'C' is 'concealed,' so done correctly, students would never know which teachers are armed and which teachers are not," Dalessio proposed.

    That's the case at a school district in Kingburg, which recently voted to allow five trained staff members to carry concealed weapons.

    The Kern High School District Board of Trustees did not take any action Monday night. Board President Mike Williams said he had directed the administration to further "study the facts and put together groups of people and bring the issues from a lot of different viewpoints."

    Trustee Phillip Peters said they recently had a meeting with teachers union, police officers, security firms and classified personnel saying they want "as much input as we can on this and be as educated as we can moving forward."

    The Dolores Huerta Foundation has created a petition online to make the district a gun-free zone. It can be viewed here.

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