WASHINGTON – Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin denounced labeling public schools “gun-free zones,” telling PJM that training and arming various unnamed people on a school’s staff could be a way to protect students from future gun violence.
Bevin was asked if he agrees with President Trump’s call for allowing trained teachers to carry firearms on school grounds to protect students.
“Right now, the reason it is easy to kill people in a school is because it is a gun-free zone and is known to be a gun-free zone, and anyone who brings a gun into that zone knows they have some period of time, might be seconds but more likely minutes, before anybody will encounter them to stop them in any way shape or form – that’s a reality we need to be honest about,” Bevin said during an interview at the National Governors Association winter meeting over the weekend.
“It’s not just the idea of having a person with a gun in a school that could be a counterpoint, because if every student or ever person knows who has the gun and when they come to school and where they sit and when they make their rounds, there’s really no advantage because a person like that could be avoided if a person intended to do harm,” he added.
Bevin said evil acts like mass shootings are “calculated and intentional” so students should not know who on the school’s staff is carrying a firearm.
“So the key is you need to have the element of the unknown if you truly want to use a weapon in the hands of someone good to stop someone bad; it can’t be known where that person is. This person should be highly trained if a person were to do such a thing – far and above what a concealed carry person would have,” he said.
The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990, signed by former President George H.W. Bush, banned “the possession or discharge of a firearm in a school zone.” Bevin emphasized that an “element of the unknown” policy that permits certain people on the school staff to carry firearms would make violence prevention in schools more effective.
“They should be highly trained – highly capable, not just in terms of their physical training, but they should go through a very thorough psychiatric battery. The idea that it should be a separate person from the administration is probably not a good idea; again, because that person is easily identified,” he said.
“But if it’s unknown who it is, how many people it is and whether it’s the gym coach or whether it’s the third-grade arts teacher, the reality is it’s the element of the unknown that would make it effective,” the governor added. “But does that mean that we should do it? Not necessarily but I’m not convinced we shouldn’t do it and I think if we truly want to secure our young people and we should, we should be open to any and all possibilities of making that possible.”
Trump said on Friday that the decision to declare schools gun-free zones puts students in danger.
“I don’t want to have 100 guards standing with rifles all over the school. You do a conceal carry permit. And this would be a major deterrent, because these people are inherently cowards. If they thought like if this guy thought that other people would be shooting bullets back at him, he wouldn’t have gone to that school,” Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“He wouldn’t have gone there. It is a gun-free zone. It says this is a gun-free zone. ‘Please check your guns way far away.’ And what happens is they feel safe.”