An Oklahoma school district allows guns on campus. The rural school district in Wagoner County decided to permit teachers and staff to bring guns on campus in order to deter violence.
Okay Public Schools is reportedly one of the only school districts in Oklahoma that allows teachers and staff to legally bring guns on campus.
Superintendent Charles McMahan told KOTV News that small school districts usually don’t have police officers on the school property, and they need some means of protecting everyone. He said only one deputy patrols the whole town and about 400 children make up the student population at Okay Elementary, Junior High, and High School.
BH Media Group reports that McMahan says school officials are always “trying to figure out what’s best for our kids security-wise.”
The school posted four signs on campus to warn unwanted visitors from initiating violence among the district.
“Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students,” the signs read.
One of the reasons the school district allows guns on campus, McMahan says, is to defend the kids. He said he couldn’t live with the thought he didn’t try enforcing this gun rule.
“[The signs] might be enough to send somebody down the road looking for some other soft target,” McMahan explained. “If that’s what it does, it’s helping our school district out.”
Oklahoma school looks to deter violence with signs, guns: OKAY, Okla. – A rural school district in Wagoner County… https://t.co/t3Heu6YSCF
— OKC Breaking News (@okc_news) February 5, 2016
The majority of the local community is supportive of the new security initiative by the school district to allow guns on campus. They’re glad to see the district take action in an effort to keep students safe.
“Our kids need to be safe here on campus because we are such a rural area,” said Lucretia Echols, a grandmother of three students in Wagoner County. “Law enforcement is so far away.”
Robert Weller, who has a grandson at Okay Junior High, agrees with the policy as well.
“If someone wants to come in and start shooting, someone should be able to interrupt it,” Weller said.
The requirements for the program are even more strict than those for state police. It’s mandatory for school staff members to possess a concealed carry license and be certified by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training. The firearms must also be concealed on their person or placed inside a locked box.
The school district began drafting the new firearm policy last summer that was based on Oklahoma House Bill 2014. Teachers and staff who want to bring on guns on campus must first be approved by the school board, enroll in rigorous armed security training, and pass a number of tests each year. It’s designed to better prepare teachers and staff for the worst-case scenarios that have plagued many schools in the United States.
McMahan adds that several other Oklahoma school district superintendents have turned to him for guidance as they consider implementing similar policies for their own school districts.
— GOP News (@GOPNews_) February 4, 2016
McMahan goes on to say that the district is willing to adjust the program if it’s been determined the policy has additional needs to be met. He says he views the school kids as everyone’s kids and feels as though each one is his own.
McMahan declines to say whether he carries or has access to a gun on campus. He estimates that fewer than 5 percent of district employees are armed.
Okay is about 48 miles southeast of Tulsa.
[Image via YouTube screenshot]