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School officials react cautiously to proposal for arming principals

Posted: January 16, 2013 - 2:31pm

By Barry L. Paschal


Twitter @BarryPaschal

Columbia County school officials were cautious and largely negative in reactions to Gov. Nathan Deal’s comment Wednesday that he expects to sign legislation allowing school administrators to carry firearms.

Several educators described the push as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn.

“My initial thought is that just a few years ago they took the paddle out of our hands, and now they’re gonna give us a gun?” said School Superintendent Charles Nagle.

“It’s just unbelievable to me that anyone with responsibility would just arbitrarily have a knee-jerk reaction to arm administrators,” he said. “I trust me with a gun, but I wouldn’t trust me with a gun in a school.”

School Board member David Dekle, in contrast, applauded the possibility of local schools having the option of allowing principals to carry guns.

“The only thing that might prevent a crazy person from coming in and killing somebody might be an adult with another gun,” Dekle said. “I would support it.”

The response from administrators was more cautious.

As a former Army captain, Alternative School Principal Ja’Net Bishop is no stranger to carrying a gun.

“I would be a trained and qualified person to do so,” she said, “But I would not feel comfortable around children in that capacity. It’s a whole different world in the military compared to being on a school campus.”

Harlem Middle School Principal Carla Shelton also was a captain in the Army, serving as an air defense artillery officer. She said the need for training would be paramount.
“I’m very comfortable carrying a gun,” Shelton said. “But it’s not just a matter of let me go buy one and issue it.”

Even though he has a concealed carry permit and owns several weapons, Greenbrier High School Principal Chris Segraves likewise worried about the amount of training needed for anyone to use a gun in a high-pressure situation.

“It sounds like a western,” he said. “It’s just not as easy as passing legislation and saying, ‘OK, here you are, boys – go out and buy a Glock and holster it up.”

Citizens routinely take for granted the amount of training law enforcement agencies, including the school system’s public safety officers, undergo to qualify to carry firearms, Segraves said.

“You’re talking about people who’ve gone into the field of education, not the field of law enforcement,” he said.

Place Elementary School Principal Leann Fleischauer said she’d be in that camp.

“I’m not comfortable with it,” said said. “I’ve never had a gun safety class. I wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun.”

Nagle also dismissed President Obama’s plan to provide grants for schools to hire armed officers.

“That grant was $50 million. Divide that by 50 states and that’s a million per state. You divide that million dollars we’ll get in Georgia by 180 school systems, and that won’t be enough to buy a bullet.”

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Comments (7)


I Don't Get Nagle's Remark

Charles Nagle said, “I trust me with a gun, but I wouldn’t trust me with a gun in a school.”

I don't get that remark one bit. Would Nagle trust himself to carry a gun in a mall or other place around people? That's what millions of safe and reliable people do everyday. Does Nagle feel school is such a unique and uncomfortable setting?

The facts statistics prove private gun carrying people are safer than law enforcement officers as far as collateral damage. Recall the NYC police shooting where they hit many innocent bystanders. Some people who should know better suggest there is something dangerous about teachers and principals with guns when there clearly isn't.

In Israel, where they have never had an attack on their schools, at least three teachers or administrators are armed in every school.

Barry Paschal

Nagle's comment

I believe you're overthinking Nagle's comment. He's saying what all the principals said: that he isn't trained to carry a weapon anywhere and use it in a high-pressure situation. The conversation just happened to be about schools.


Knee Jerk Reflex is on Other Leg

It seems to me Nagle is pretty clear in that he doesn’t believe administrators should be armed. I do agree no one who doesn’t want to be armed should be forced to carry a gun, but armed administrators would be a definite asset. I’m not sure of Nagle’s status as far as owning or carrying a gun while not in school, but gun owners are safer than police when intervening in crimes. In addition, most practice firing their weapon more than the police do. But if his issue is the training of people before they will be allowed to carry a gun in school, how hard would that be? The Sheriff’s Office and many volunteers could run them through a brief course. So what is his issue if no one will be forced to carry a gun if he/she is uncomfortable doing so? I believe the knee jerk reaction to the proposal is on the other leg.

Little Lamb

Deflection, followed by a little Reflection

Over on the Chronicle web-site, I responded to Principal Leann Fleischauer’s comment harshly, telling her to go back and read a lesson plan, or something, when she didn't separate the differences between allowing adminstrators to carry weapons in schools versus requiring them to. Here is Fleischauer's comment from the story (slightly edited):

Baker Place Elementary School Principal Leann Fleischauer said she [did not favor the idea]. “I’m not comfortable with it,” said said. “I’ve never had a gun safety class. I wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun.”

Upon reflection, I wonder whether I might have been a little harsh on Ms. Fleischauer above. Of course, Gov. Deal’s proposal does not require principals to carry guns in Georgia public schools; his proposal is to permit them to do so if agreeable and if proven qualified and competent.

However, think about the long-term unintended consequences: You will have many teachers and administrative staff willing and able to carry arms in school for protection of persons there. Likewise, you will have many more who do not desire to carry for personal reasons. Now, think about the selection process for administrative staff, and especially principals. If you have two candidates, equally qualified by education, training and experience; but one is willing and qualified to protect schoolchildren with a gun and the other is not, which one are you likely to select for promotion?

Ms. Fleischauer might have cause for concern for her upward mobility if she doesn't learn how to pack.


Yeah, you can't spank a kid,

Yeah, you can't spank a kid, but you can shoot one.

Who would ever think that's ok?

You have to be highly trained to be able to shoot someone, and it's a lot harder than people think, to do it. It's not just about taking a class, it's a certain mindset, and it takes a long time to develop. And based on a few principals that I know, there's no way that I'd ever want them to have a gun.

And it's very, very, very hard to shoot a child, especially one that you know, no matter what the circumstances.

Knee-jerk reaction, and a very poor one.

Little Lamb

One Little Detail

Don't forget, Corgimom, that Gov. Deal’s goal is to shoot armed invaders of the school, not the schoolchildren themselves.