Concealed weapons would no longer be allowed on school grounds if the Bristol Town Council has its way.
The council last Wednesday voted unanimously to support efforts to ban hidden guns from school grounds across the state. Even though openly carried weapons are banned, anyone with a Rhode Island concealed carry permit can bring a hidden gun into a public school without the knowledge of police or school officials, according to the R.I. Coalition Against Gun Violence. The coalition aims to close that loophole.
“Forty-two states generally prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns in K-12 schools, even by concealed carry permit holders,” the Coalition states in its 2017 Fact Sheet. “Only seven other states generally allow CCP holders to carry concealed handguns in K-12 schools. Rhode Island is an outlier in its approach to guns in schools compared to the rest of the country.”
The State House bills that the Coalition hopes will get approved this year are 2017-H5354 and 2016-S0187.
“People are allowed to carry concealed weapons in school if they have a concealed carry permit,” Anne Kellerman, representing the coalition, told the Bristol Council. “They’re not allowed to carry them openly, but they can carry them hidden, and that’s just not right. Speak to your legislators. Speak loudly and speak often until we don’t have to have these meetings anymore.”
Bristol Police Chief Josue Canario indicated his support for the legislation during the meeting.
“It comes up every year. There are mixed emotions in regards to it,” Chief Canario said. “There are schools where there is violence right next door, so they kind of agree that maybe other people should have firearms there. I don’t think that’s the issue in this community. I feel comfortable saying no one should be on that property with a firearm unless you’re law enforcement person. When you introduce a firearm, if the person is not well trained to deal with the totality of the circumstances surrounding an incident, things become real dangerous.”
The measures also have the support of the R.I. School Superintendents Association, the R.I. Association of School Principals, the R.I. Association of School Committees, the R.I. League of Cities and Towns, as well as the R.I. Police Chiefs Association, according to the Coalition.