- Associated Press - Sunday, May 28, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana state law allows school boards to let any adult staffer carry a gun in schools. But fewer than one percent of schools in a state with a high number of gun owners actually do so.

Three school districts - Lima, Belfry and Custer - have staff members who actively carry guns, The Billings Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/2rcO7vP) Sunday after requesting records from each of Montana’s school districts. Another, Harrison, allowed a former teacher to carry a gun. Two others - Saco and Phillipsburg - have current authorizations for a staff member to carry a gun, but they don’t currently carry firearms.

At least 12 other states allow guns to be carried in K-12 schools. Utah has allowed school employees to carry guns for more than a decade.

The Lima school board approved allowing a staffer to carry a gun in October without any discussion, according to meeting minutes. Belfry school officials backed the district’s gun measure unanimously.

The process took a while in Custer. In 2013 and 2104, a safety committee including law enforcement, trustees and Superintendent Dave Perkins looked at different types of weapons, bullets, training, background checks and police coordination. The district held two public meetings and sent out letters to parents on the issue. Trustees eventually unanimously approved allowing staffers to carry firearms if they passed a psychological review and a background check and took firearms training.

“We did things right,” said Perkins, who provided hundreds of pages of documents related to the records request.

In Harrison, officials quietly gave a teacher permission to carry a weapon without seeking public input after a high school student who had previously brought weapons to school threatened to blow it up in 2014. The teacher left after the 2014-15 school year, and no other employee has been asked to carry a gun since then.

Saco officials authorized former Superintendent Gordon Hahn to carry a gun but his successor, Wade Sunby chose not to do so.

“I guess my opinion would be if it’s a necessity then every school in the state of Montana would do it,” Sunby said.


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