We found a disturbing message left on our home answering machine Monday night. In stark, ominous, carefully chosen words, we heard the principal of our daughter’s elementary school explain that weapons have been banned from school property ... until now. Legislation passed this year by North Carolina’s General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory now lifts that ban. So, the principal explained, beginning Tuesday, “handguns may be brought onto school property.”
That was the chilling message from an elementary school principal to the parents of her school: “handguns may be brought onto school property.”
First, I have to offer up some disclosure, not that I think it matters a whit in this case. The letter linked above was written by a Unitarian Universalist minister, a Rev. James C Leach, and I attend a UU church (not the same one, dur... I live in Indiana, and that'd be a long Sunday morning commute. Doubt I'd get back in time for football.)
Yes, he's right. Sorta. Kinda. In a very broad-view way.
North Carolina House Bill 937 does allow lawful firearm owners to bring a firearm onto school property. But, and here's the salient point that Rev. Leach ignores: That gun needs to be in a locked container in a locked vehicle:
"This prohibition does not apply to a person who has a concealed handgun permit
issued in accordance with Article 54B of this Chapter, has a concealed handgun permit considered valid under G.S. 14-415.24, or is exempt from obtaining a permit pursuant to G.S. 14-415.25, provided the weapon is a handgun, is in a closed compartment or container within the person's locked vehicle, and the vehicle is in a parking area that is owned or leased by State government. A person may unlock the vehicle to enter or exit the vehicle, provided the handgun remains in the closed compartment at all times and the vehicle is locked immediately following the entrance or exit."
Got that? In order to bring a firearm onto school property, you need:
- A valid concealed handgun permit.
- It has to be a handgun only. No "Assault-Super Killy-AR-Shotgun-16-War-Weapons" allowed.
- It has to be in a compartment in a locked vehicle.
What they're saying is that as a lawful concealed permit holder, I can drop my kid off at school without having to leave my gun at home, then return to get it before I go to work. Instead, I simply have to put my smoke-wagon into the glove box before I turn onto school property.
I’ll have to admit that I am having trouble seeing the merits of this legislation. I took our daughter to school Tuesday as I do most mornings. I parked in the same place I usually do, alongside a long line of other vehicles, and got out to begin our walk into a school we’ve grown to love. But something felt different. I didn’t feel safer knowing the person parked on either side might now legally be concealing a weapon in his or her car. I didn’t have the sense that our young daughter was better off because all around us in that parking lot there could be handguns legally hidden away in the surrounding cars. I actually shuddered to think that the click of a lock opening the car next to us might now mean there was a gun close at hand.Besides all of that, what the Rev. Leach seems to ignore is this: There were possibly people around that had firearms (locked in their car) on October 1.
And yet, nobody was killed. Why, it's almost like the guns just sat there, doing absolutely nothing.