California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly held a press conference to announce the introduction of the School Marshal Program, created to “protect children from violent intruders in the classroom.”
Similar to federal air marshals who are meant to “blend in” with passengers, this measure authorizes school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to use general purpose funds to provide training to qualified, volunteer teachers, administrators, or janitors who are willing to carry firearms on campus as part of the school marshal plan. The proposed law builds on the 1995 Gun Free Zone Act, which permits teachers and school staff members to carry concealed firearms if their district permits it.
“We’re not proposing to simply arm teachers,” Donnelly told me, “we’re going to train them to use the CCW they are already have…In 1995, they obviously felt it was important to not deny that right to teachers who felt that need, A.B. 202 just reiterates existing law.”
I asked Assemblyman Donnelly how this potentially controversial approach will protect both students and faculty.
“This is going to build an invisible line of protection around kids by protecting the identity of the marshals,” Donnelly said. “A killer’s goal is to kill. Now he’ll know there are sharks swimming with the fish. The killer isn’t going to know if there’s one gun on campus or 10.”
“Politicians have been exploiting the tragedy in Connecticut and have threatened to ban ammunition, create even more restrictions—none of which would have saved the lives of the children and teachers at Sandy Hook,” he said.An important part of the measure is to protect the identities of potential marshals so they don’t become targets.
Assemblyman Donnelly became emotional as he talked about the courage of the Sandy Hook teachers.
“Talk about heroism—we have a moral obligation to people like young Vicki Soto, who flung herself in front of her students at the cost of her own life,” Donnelly said. “We need to make sure others like her won’t be defenseless when faced with a deranged madman, looking into the face of inexplicable evil.”
For more information about the School Marshal Program visit his California Assembly website: http://arc.asm.ca.gov/member/AD33/
UPDATE from Assemblyman Donnelly: “This is not a state mandated program. AB202 simply empowers local school districts to designate teachers, administrators and staff, who currently have a CCW permit, and volunteer to undergo additional training. Current law allows any school personell who have a valid CCW permit and permission from their district to conceal carry on campus now. (Ironically, that exemption was protected in the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995). We envision that local districts who choose to adopt this plan will obtain training for those volunteers who agree to be designated, “School Marshals” from their local police or sheriff’s training officer at little to no cost. AB202 does protect the identity of all School Marshals from public disclosure, thereby creating an invisible line of defense around the kids because the perpetrator will never know which teacher is armed, much like the Air Marshals program. Godspeed.”