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It is sickening anytime an issue comes up within our schools involving injury or death of students. After the Columbine shooting while I was sheriff, I met with the sheriff of that county. My intention was to gain knowledge in the hopes of ensuring we, as a law enforcement agency, had policies in place to respond to protect our local schools in the event of a local threat.

While I was sheriff, my wife and I opened a local indoor shooting range. During this time we obtained a Federal Firearms license and conducted firearms training for citizens to obtain concealed firearms permits.

As the issuing agent, I approved the training agenda of those operations providing training to individuals applying for permits within the County. I might add that my wife was not a gun person, but she attended training from one of these operations, and obtained her concealed permit.

After the recent tragedy in Florida, we hear suggestions of ways to provide protection within schools.

Allowing concealed carry to qualified school employees within schools has been suggested. It is not realistic to expect an armed law enforcement officer to be present within every school. A closed, lock down environment, within the schools, eliminating access to individuals with threats in mind is also not feasible.

It makes some sense to approach the suggestion of allowing trained school employees, who request being allowed to carry firearms within the school, to do so. Those individuals who have acquired a concealed permit more than likely applied for that permit to allow for personal protection for their own safety.

A teacher, trained in firearms, has a better chance of protecting students, as well as themselves, if they have access to a firearm in the event of an attack. This is a safety issue and should not be addressed as a gun issue or for personal political agendas.

Individuals requesting the right to carry on school property should be required to attend advanced, continuing training by Sheriff’s Office personnel.

Response time for law enforcement is often lengthy, while immediate response by someone trained and available may make the difference. Alarmed, locked firearm boxes are available to restrict access by pass codes to ensure no unauthorized individuals gain possession of said firearm.

Yeah I’m getting old, and times sure have changed, but I still have grand kids and family members attending local schools. It would be somewhat reassuring to know, whether I’m in a McDonald’s, movie theater, or school, that someone with training, a permit, and access to a firearm, was present in the event of a deadly attack.

Just food for thought!

Neil Harris is a retired Elko County Sheriff.

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