SD Petition Against School Sentinels
by Ashley Kringen, Reporter
February 01, 2013 9:28 PM
The school sentinel bill in South Dakota, which would allow school employees to carry guns on school property passed in the house this week, but the idea isn't sitting well with everyone.
Since the school shooting in Newtown, CT, the South Dakota legislature has been looking for a way to better protect students, which includes the possibility of arming teachers, janitors and other school officials.
The South Dakota Democratic Party started an online petition against the measure and it's already attracted hundreds of supporters.
"It's just really caught on fire," said Nesselhuf.
Ben Nesselhuf, chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, started the online petition on Tuesday after the House of Representatives voted 42 to 27 to pass the school sentinel bill.
Hundreds of people have singned their names in protest of letting teachers have guns on property.
Nesselhuf is a gun owner himself, but said guns don't belong in schools.
"The idea that we're going to take something, as potentially as deadly as a firearm and put them into a fairly chaotic situation which is 25 second graders in a classroom, that's a great concern," said Nesselhuf.
A concern he said many parents, educators, religious leaders and police officers have too.
Lawmakers who voted yes to House Bill 1087 feel a plan should be put into place to protect students from incidents involving guns, just like plans are in place for tornado drills or fire drills.
Some representatives said the bill is being pro-active, working to increase school safety.
The issue of letting teachers carry guns on property comes with a heavy debate.
For the Democratic Party, their purpose of the online petition is to let people publicly state their opposition to House Bill 1087, hoping to get attention from the Senate before the next vote happens.
"The simple fact of the matter is, especially in South Dakota, that schools are the absolute safest places for kids to be," said Nesselhuf.
The Democratic Party doesn’t have a specific number of petitions they're hoping to get but just enough to show legislators that this issue is raising red flags for people against it.
Some legislators in favor of the bill said it all comes down to local control, the bill gives school boards the option to have staff members carry a weapon.
To sign the Democratic Party's online petition, visit smartschoolsafety.org