Certain Cody school personnel will be allowed to concealed carry firearms in district buildings this fall.

Tuesday night the Cody School Board voted 4-2 to pass Policy CKA on third reading. With the vote it becomes official school policy. The process to receive applications, vet, train and select district personnel to concealed carry in the schools begins soon.

As in the previous vote in March, trustees Tom Keegan and Stefanie Bell – Bell called in via phone – were opposed, while chair Kelly Simone and trustees Scott Weber, William Struemke and Jenni Rosencranse voted in favor.

There were three major amendments from the second reading. The first was to raise the minimum amount of recurring training required from 12 to 18 hours after receiving a recommendation from Park County sheriff Scott Steward to add more. There are still at least 24 hours of initial training required as well.

The second change provides more specific training requirements and include some of those used by federal law enforcement, such as training with the nondominant hand and working with barriers.

“If we’re going to set the bar high,” chair Kelly Simone said, “let’s set the bar high.”

The final change was to add a comprehensive review of the policy after two years.

All trustees had the opportunity to state their views on the policy before the vote.

Weber said the policy would keep students safe, while Keegan said it would make schools less safe. Simone and Rosencranse both pledged to look carefully at every employee who applies before admitting them into the program.

“I think the CKA policy is 90 percent deterrent,” Weber said, adding that he was ready to replace gun-free zone signs with armed staff signs. “An armed school has never been breached and it won’t be. I can guarantee it.”

Bell said the policy was a last resort and wouldn’t support it. Keegan went further.

“I think academics will suffer,” he said. “Those people will no longer be just teaching, they’ll also be carrying a gun ... So we can expect less from our teachers as well.”

Nine people spoke during the public comment period, five in favor and four against the policy.

Some had been to meetings since the beginning, including Bill Tallen and Press Stephens, and one had firsthand knowledge of the process – former school board trustee Rebecca George.

George urged the trustees to pass the policy after the work that had been put into it and the many questions they had answered.

“What is going to stop someone who comes through the door?” she asked. “The only answer is an [School Resource Officer] or armed teacher. That is what you need to remember on this policy. Nothing else is going to stop them.

“I wish I were there with you making this vote. I know you’ll do me proud.”

On the other side of the issue, senior Jordan Nelson said she didn’t want to add more fear for younger students, including her brother.

“I don’t want guns in our school – we go to school everyday scared we might be shot by someone in the school. We don’t want to have the added fear of guns in the hands of teachers in the school,” she said. “I worry that in the heat of the moment, there are more problems than solutions.”

There have been many public comments at previous meetings, in addition to a public forum in January, but people have made their thoughts known to trustees in a variety of methods, from emails to calls and chats in the street.

Trustees have also received two petitions on the issue. At the March board meeting trustees accepted a petition in favor of the policy carrying the signatures of 661 Cody residents.

Prior to that, local group Wyoming Rising-Northwest spearheaded creation of a petition with 368 signatures in opposition to the policy, which was delivered at February’s board meeting.

A scientific school district survey showed the community heavily in favor of the policy.

Policy CKA was initially written in the fall under the direction of school board counsel Scott Kolpitcke, but has been heavily amended over the months. It was made possible by the Legislature’s vote during the 2017 session to approve a bill allowing districts to choose whether or not they wanted to allow concealed carry under certain conditions, including a minimum 24 hours of initial training.

Nearly every meeting since the fall has included discussion of the policy and many work sessions have gone long into the night with trustees working through specific language. Trustees have also discussed specifics with Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker and Steward on multiple occasions.

At its core, the policy and regulations allow employees under contract with the school district, i.e. teachers, administrators – along with classified employees at the rural schools with board discretion – to carry a concealable firearm on school property if they pass background checks, a psychological suitability exam and 24 hours of initial training, among other steps.

The policy was initially scheduled to have its first reading in January, but that vote was delayed to February, at which point trustees voted 5-2 to pass it to second reading.

Earlier in March, Uinta County, drawing from Cody’s policy, became the first district in the state to approve a policy allowing school personnel to concealed carry.

(29) comments

BT

ProNra, your 'facts' are skewed and you're not even reading what I've written here, nor do you understand what Weber said. I never said there have not been shootings at schools where there were SROs - I said that there have not been shootings at schools with vetted, trained staff members carrying concealed. That's what Weber was talking about, as well. And you are wrong about Columbine, there was an SRO on duty that day. He engaged the shooters in the parking lot, but they suppressed him and entered the school. In accordance with his training, he did not try to follow them, and remained outside waiting for police response. That, and the Parkland experience, and the Arapaho experience (with which I am very familiar), simply confirm that SROs have a very inconsistent record, with at least as many failures as successes when it comes to response to school shootings. That is an entirely different issue than the effectiveness of concealed carry by unidentified staff members; the record of SROs is worth talking about but it does not predict in any way, shape, or form the impact of having selected school staff carrying concealed firearms. Those people - in hundreds of districts around the country - have never failed to stop a shooting, because shootings have never happened in the schools where they are present. Stupid metaphors aside, their effectiveness can be neither proven nor disproven on the evidence. With a touch of logical analysis and tactical sense, the deterrent effect can be inferred - it cannot be proven - but we make critical decisions in many fields without empirical proof. Life would be much simpler if that were not the case.

esjay

This is just the beginning of the celebration. All we need now is a school shooting and it'll be a real party! Scott Weber has probably already polished his dancing shoes. http://csgv4.blogspot.com/2012/03/in-wake-of-school-masscare-ohio.html

Floyd

This has disaster written all over it. I am giving it 60 days tops before one of the following happens: A. A student steals a gun or disarms a teacher. B. A teacher abuses the authority and uses a gun to intimidate a student C. A gun is misfired. D. A student decides to even the playing field and pack their own heat. E. A student elects to commit suicide by teacher...Cops are trained and still situations like the above happen every day. This experiment is going to escalate the possibility of a school shooting more than prevent it.

BT

Vetted, trained, approved school staff have been carrying concealed weapons in schools around America for a lot longer than 60 days - many years in fact - and yet none of your fears have been realized.

ProNra

"An armed school has never been breached and it won’t be. I can guarantee it.”Weber where have you been lately? Have you not read up on the any of the shootings in schools. Case in point Arapahoe HS in Colorado had armed SRO's and the school was breached as well as a young girl was shot and killed. Latest is Florida shooting which also had 2 armed SRO's and a show of police and look at what happened there. Armed officers or teachers at schools do not guarantee anything other than the fact there WILL be guns on the school grounds. Instead of arming teachers why not have a office set up in the school for 2 off duty LEO's that are armed. Im sure there are a few in Cody that would be happy to work in the school instead of being in a patrol car.

Fox Blue River

Guns in schools in Cody. In the meantime there is no mental health care in this town.

Dakota9

Of course, EVERY NEWCOMER (and Dewey) know everything about anything!!!? Let’s try it, and if it doesn’t deter, or at least STOP a shooter-then do it YOUR WAY and WAIT for the cops!! At a barfight at the Irma a pbout 10 Years ago, it took nearly AN HOUR for the Cody Police Dept to get there and when they did, the single cop didn’t even come inside, until there were at least 2-3 more officers show up,.

Floyd

This has disaster written all over it. I am giving it 60 days tops before one of the following happens: A. A student steals a gun or disarms a teacher. B. A teacher abuses the authority and uses a gun to intimidate a student C. A gun is misfired. D. A student decides to even the playing field and pack their own heat. E. A student elects to commit suicide by teacher...Cops are trained and still situations like the above happen every day. This experiment is going to escalate the possibility of a school shooting more than prevent it

Floyd

I give it 60 days tops before some kid steals a teachers gun or a teacher abuses the privilege to intimidate a student. This has got disaster written all over it. Give some straight A student the right to carry in school and at least make it a fair fight. I would have studied harder if that was the reward.

okthen

Fools....who will carry and pay for the liability policies should their be an accident? And are there that many unhinged people in Park County or that general rural area looking to do harm to others. Just because a person is a school teacher does not mean that person is mentally or emotionally stable either (ex: the Georgia teacher locking himself in the schoolroom with a gun right after Parkland) During a real gunfight, the NYPD hit rate is only 11% - what makes you think a school situation would be better?

Publius

If a would-be shooter knows there's an armed person in a school he'll most likely go somewhere else. Therefore, the deterrence effect is reason enough to put armed personnel in a school. So-called Gun Free Zones are attractive targets. If you don't see it this way you can put a Gun Free Zone sign in your front yard. And if you ever need a cop because your home is being invaded make sure you tell dispatch to send an unarmed one.

BT

When did you (or when will you) start paying attention to this topic, and the policy the board has approved? The district's liability insurance provider has confirmed the district's premiums will not change. No one is going to be authorized to carry "just because" he/she is a school teacher - they have to volunteer, have two years' experience in the district, be endorsed by the district's administration, pass a background check to receive and maintain a concealed carry permit, pass a psychological suitability evaluation and further vetting and evaluation by the board, and complete a rigorous course of training. School districts around the country with similar policies and procedures haven't been having the problems you predict. Practical accuracy under stress is achievable, but you have to know a bit more about the topic than a convenient and misleading stat to discuss it intelligently. And finally, no one with a lick of sense thinks this is a high probability threat, but neither is a fire in our schools, and we still provide fire extinguishers and conduct fire drills, because the consequences in both cases are unacceptable. Would you tell American schools to wait until after they experience a mass shooting before they take measures to protect themselves? OK then.

akeisel

Thankfully now those gun free zones will never be posted in front of my kids' schools. @Disgusted Taxpayer - I would advise you to steer clear of most retail businesses in Cody if you are concerned about guns in the hands of many humans; there are many that already carry.

Justine

The chances of an active shooter are probably less then 1%. But the chances of a gun accident are high. Then what?

BT

Please provide a citation for any accident in any school in America attributable to a volunteer, vetted, evaluated, trained school staff member approved by their local school board to carry concealed. We'll be waiting - but we won't be holding our breath.

Bluedot

[sad] I wonder how many parents will transfer their children to other schools within Park County or choose to home school?

BT

There would have to be a whole lot to come close to the falling enrollment every year, resulting from parents dissatisfied with the quality of education provided by the district's schools - or their lack of security. I'm betting there will be about as many outraged progressives home schooling as a result of this, as there have been celebrities leaving America after Trump's election.

Voice of Reason

BT-There have been no school shootings where cows are placed in the lobbies either. Correlation does not equal causation.

(Edited by staff.)

Publius

Glad it passed. Needs to be implemented ASAP. Get 'er done!

Publius

Glad this passed. Needs to be implemented ASAP. Get 'er done!

DeweyV

Dark day...

myWY

@DeweyV - I concur

Disgusted taxpayer

One day this decision to arm common people will come back to haunt you all.You can not put weapons in the hands of every human and expect the same results when that human is under pressure...many of us learned that in combat.Guns are not the answer to every problem..education and proper parenting is.

BT

"Disgusted," what would haunt this community is if they declined the opportunity to protect our schools, and someone actually came through the door shooting, and kids and staff died, helpless. Stop with the hyperbole, no one is "putting weapons" in anyone's (much less "every human's") hands, or saying they are the answer to every problem. The problem this decision is addresses is immediate and deadly: a killer comes to school, and either has his way, or is stopped. All the other ideas and programs are helpful and necessary, and can reduce the risk, but they don't stop a shooter on the day. Good job, school board.

Voice of Reason

More brilliance from Mr. Weber: "I think the CKA policy is 90 percent deterrent," Weber said, adding that he was ready to replace gun free zone signs with armed staff. "An armed school has never been breached and it wont be, I can guarantee it."

It has already happened. There have been many shootings at schools where armed resource officers were present, Parkland. Also, aren't police officers armed? Do they ever get shot?

BT

"Voice," you're not paying attention. Weber is exactly right, that there is not a single report of a shooter attacking a school where vetted, selected, trained, and approved school staff members carry concealed - and there are hundreds if not thousands of those across the country. School Resource Officers are a different proposition altogether - their schools do sometimes do get attacked, and while sometimes they are effective, sometimes they fail catastrophically, as at Columbine and in Parkland, Florida. Two very different approaches, and a very different record of performance.

Of course police officers are armed, and sometimes they get shot. They choose a career that entails that risk, to protect the innocent. Our volunteer school staffers will now accept that risk, to protect the innocent - and themselves - and they deserve your respect and support, not your derision. Weber is right that, from the record, having an unknown number of unidentified staff carrying concealed appears to be a better deterrent than an SRO.

ProNra

You sir are sadly incorrect. As I stated in another post there have been schools that had SRO's that were armed at the schools and a shooter did breach the buildings as well as kill students. Go read up on Arapahoe High school Littleton Colorado. December of 2013 an 18 year old student breached the school shooting 17-year-old Claire Davis, who later died of her injuries (He also shot at other persons at the school but missed hitting them.) The shooter was not actually “confronted” and stopped by an armed school resource officer, but rather he died at his own hand after failing to ignite an improvised weapon as a deputy was closing in on him. If an armed SRO and a police officer who was infront of the school at the time of the shooting can't deter a breach what makes you think arming teachers is going to make any difference?!!

ProNra

Weber is not correct and neither are you. Columbine at the time of their shooting did NOT have SRO's located at the school and did not implement having SRO's on the ground or have a full time office for them in the school until AFTER the shooting. As for Florida there were 2 armed SRO's on the ground as well as law enforcement and NO ONE made contact with the shooter the entire time the shooting took place. They waited outside while those kids were being slaughtered. Get your facts right.

ProNra

You are correct Voice and Mr Weber is incorrect . It has happened. Case in point Arapahoe High school on December 13, 2013, a shooting occurred at the school. The gunman, an 18-year-old student, entered the school armed with a shotgun, a machete, three Molotov cocktails, and 125 rounds of ammunition. At the time of the breach by Karl Pierson, there was a on duty officer parked outside the front door of the school and a armed SRO inside the school. Neither of them made contact with the shooter until AFTER he had already shot and killed himself but NOT before he had shot a point blank range in the head Claire Davis, 17, who died 6 days later.

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