School policy superceeds new state open-carry lawPublished 5:48pm Monday, August 12, 2013
During Thursday’s regularly scheduled Selma City School Board meeting, expressions of concern of what Alabama’s new gun law will mean for the school system and their standing policies were put to rest as Selma City Schools Superintendent Gerald Shirley assured the board that the policies in place will not change — meaning the system’s zero tolerance policy when it comes to guns and weapons.
One of the aspects of the new law, which went into effect Aug. 1, is that it allows those with and without permits to openly carry a pistol in public and only becomes a violation of the law if the weapon is concealed — a feature which made school board members very uneasy.
“I really want everybody to be contentious about this law because I’m afraid of it, I really am,” School board president Henry Hicks Sr. said. “Most of all because our babies are now at more at risk — talking about giving 18-year-old kids guns. You really don’t have to have a permit now, you can carry a gun out in public, but when you put your jacket on, it’s a concealed weapon. This law really disturbs me.”
Hicks said since the law changed, he didn’t know whether the system’s policy and procedure would change as well, noting he was most concerned with after school events like football and basketball games.
Shirley however reassured the board the system’s policies would stand, adding he received a letter from State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice, which was sent out to all city and country superintendents, encouraging schools to continue to enforce existing policing banning firearms and other weapons from school grounds.
“Our policy is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to guns and weapons,” Shirley said, noting the gun law won’t effect the policy.
In Bice’s letter, he writes that students and school employees who violate school policy may be subject to disciplinary action as provided by policy.
“If you have not already done so,” Bice continued, “you are advised to post notices at all points of entry onto school property and into school buildings stating ‘firearms prohibited.’”
Shirley said the school system has already acquired stickers from the sheriff’s department notifying both students and guests that firearms are not permitted inside the school buildings.
Sgt. John Hatfield of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said they have already given Shirley nearly 50 of the 5×5 stickers that will be placed on each entrance at all of the city’s schools.
“The stickers are just something that we generated with the sheriff’s department that stops people from walking in a business (with a weapon) with the new ‘open carry law,’” Hatfield said. “It’s a good tool to use that way people will know, once they walk up there they will see the stickers.”
Hatfield said if the sticker is placed on a business door, residents cannot walk into that business armed.
The department has already given away more than 400 of the red and black warning stickers, and Hatfield said they plan to continue to give them away as long as they are available.
If anyone does bring a weapon into a building that has the ‘firearms prohibited’ sticker, Hatfield said those in violation can be arrested.
Businesses interested in the ‘firearms prohibited’ sticker can pick them up for free at the sheriff’s department.