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Wyoming District To Decide On Teachers Carrying Guns


Tonight a county school district in Wyoming decides whether to let teachers carry guns to school. Wyoming has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the United States, but this issue has stirred a long debate. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska explains.

KAMILA KUDELSKA, BYLINE: Mark McKenna teaches art at Cody High School in Cody, Wyo. Would he carry a gun to school?

MARK MCKENNA: I definitely, honestly believe that I would.

KUDELSKA: He has four children, and he says in a school shooting every second counts.

MCKENNA: Every second could mean a life or multiple lives. If it means saving one life, and if that kid happens to be yours or mine, I think arming a teacher, there's no reason why it wouldn't be worth it at that point.

KUDELSKA: Most people who live here have handled guns or grew up around them, like Jill Lynn. She teaches elementary school in Cody but says she doesn't want the school board to decide that she or her colleagues could be armed on the job. She worries about what could happen to the good guy with the gun.

JILL LYNN: Because when the officers would get to the building, how would they - they see somebody with a gun. Are they going to be identifying that person correctly? There's just a lot of different factors that go in, and I think it puts people in a more dangerous situation.

KUDELSKA: School staffers can carry guns in more than a hundred other districts around the country. Cody's school district first started debating whether to allow teachers to carry last year. That was when the Wyoming state legislature handed the power over to districts to decide. Seven states have considered similar laws this year. Some school board members in Cody have said giving guns to teachers is their best option, partly because they can't afford to hire any more armed security for the schools. Cody Edwards is a senior at Cody High School, where they've never had a school shooting, but their active shooter drills train them to barricade doors, throw textbooks. In a real shooting, he doesn't think that will work.

CODY EDWARDS: We should be trying to get to someone who has a gun, which is eventually what we're going to do anyway, if we're calling the police.

KUDELSKA: And for him, it's OK if that person with a gun is a teacher. Last week the county where the Parkland shootings happened in February came to the opposite conclusion. Their school board decided not to accept money from the state of Florida to train its staff to carry guns. If the school district in Cody votes yes, it would be the second in Wyoming to let its teachers be armed. For NPR News, I'm Kamila Kudelska in Cody. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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